It’s no secret that living in nearly any part of California is expensive. That’s especially true for the Bay Area. For decades San Francisco and the surrounding area have been at the center of the tech-boom. For some worker paycheck are high, but its affected the economy in an eye-opening way.

Low Income?

The federal government is classifying a family of four earning up to $117,400 as low-income. That threshold is the highest in the United States and applies to three counties in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties.

The number is different from the federal poverty guidelines but does determine eligibility for federal and local housing programs. To come up with the ‘low income’ number officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development factor in median income and average housing cost.

“It sounds ridiculous, but it’s not,” said Richard A. Walker, a professor at UC Berkeley. His new book explains how the tech industry drew highly paid workers to the area. He also examined how all areas of San Francisco living were affected including transportation, utilities, and food.

The “fair market rent” for a two-bedroom in the Bay is just over $3,000 a month. The average home price just climbed over a $1 million.

What does this mean for workers

Not everyone in San Francisco is the tech industry and not every profession makes anywhere close to $117,400. Which has forced thousands of workers have been forced to move outside of the city and facing long commutes.

“Those are the people who get forgotten in the narrative of the glamour of tech changing the world,” Walker said about workers in the Bay.

Officials and activists have been looking for ways to drive down prices and make commutes more bearable. Building more around rail lines and changing state laws have all been considered. California currently has a state law that limits rent control.

According to Kate Hartley, director of San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the high construction costs and low federal funding create challenges of keeping low and middle-income people in the city. It’s unclear if any purposal will fix the Bay’s housing crisis.

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