Improving Housing Affordability For All Residents

Scott Wiener is a leader on housing policy and works to reform San Francisco’s approach to housing and ensure that we have enough housing for our growing population and enough affordable housing. Scott's tenacity on housing reform has been publicly recognized, and Scott authored a widely disseminated piece on Medium arguing that more housing will help stabilize housing prices. Reforming our approach to housing creation and housing affordability is a key priority for Scott. Our city and region are growing and will continue to grow, and we need local and regional solutions to address our housing shortage and escalating housing costs.

Addressing our housing crisis requires a clear-eyed commitment to three approaches – encouraging smart approaches to increased housing creation, building more affordable housing more quickly, and ensuring housing stability for existing residents. For years in San Francisco, our housing creation has failed to keep pace with population growth, we've put unnecessary restrictions on the kinds of housing that can be built, and we've made it way too hard and time-consuming to build affordable housing. These choices have driven rents and home prices to astronomical levels, as well as fueling displacement and evictions. We need to think differently about housing, and Scott works hard to do just that. We also need to do more to stabilize people in their housing during these challenging times, and keeping people in their housing is a priority for Scott.

Creating More Housing

If we want to make housing more affordable, we need more housing. Period. Scott has been a leading voice for the need to expand our housing supply in a smart, sustainable, and transit-oriented way:

  • Supporting Smart Development: Scott has supported various new developments that will create tens of thousands of units of housing in various parts of the city. Scott's opponent has opposed many thousand of units of new housing, including affordable housing.
  • Allowing New In-Law Units: Scott crafted multiple pieces of innovative legislation to allow for new rent-controlled in-law units, including using new in-law units as an incentive for people to seismically retrofit their apartment buildings. In-law units are the most affordable type of non-subsidized housing and are naturally more accessible for seniors since they are usually on the ground floor. Under Scott's new approach, zoning restrictions are lifted to add these new units. Based on the template Scott created, this approach has now been taken citywide, and we're already seeing new units added.
  • Increasing Housing Density Along Transit Corridors: Scott has authored multiple pieces of legislation to increase allowable housing density of new buildings along transit corridors. We need more housing where people can rely on public transportation.
  • Creating More Student Housing: Scott authored legislation to make it easier for universities to build student housing for the nearly 100,000 college and graduate students in San Francisco. The legislation, over time, will ease the significant challenges universities and students face around housing. The legislation also bans universities from converting apartment buildings into student housing.
  • Allowing Micro-Units: One way to address our housing crisis is to allow greater flexibility in the kinds of housing we build. Scott authored legislation allowing for smaller studios: 220 square feet, comprised of 150 square feet of living space and 70 square feet for kitchen, bathroom, and closet. Although small studios aren’t for everyone, they can be an option for people who don’t need much space or can’t afford much. They can be particularly helpful for communal housing, such as senior housing, student housing, transition-age youth housing, and so forth.

Housing Not Tents

Scott believes it is inhumane, unhealthy, and unsafe to allow people to live and ultimately deteriorate and die in tents on our streets. The tents also create significant health and safety impacts on surrounding neighborhoods. We have a moral imperative to transition people out of the tents and into shelter and housing. Scott fights for funding for housing for homeless people and sponsored a ballot measure that will generate $1 billion over 20 years to create permanent housing for homeless people, as well as create more navigation centers to get people off the streets and into services. Scott's opponent, by contrast, believes it should be legal to pitch a tent on a sidewalk, and she opposed Scott's $1 billion funding measure for homeless housing.

Supporting Renters

Scott supports rent control and fights to protect renters, particularly our most vulnerable renters. Scott is a long-time supporter of Ellis Act reform, expanding legal resources, and working hard to keep people stable in their housing. Scott has authored various pieces of legislation to support renters, including:

  • Legislation to extend rent control to long-term HIV survivors receiving federal housing subsidies.
  • Legislation to require notice to tenants in illegal units before the owner can seek a demolition permit to remove the unit. Previously, the owner could obtain a demolition permit without even notifying the tenant and providing him or her an opportunity to protest.
  • Legislation to improve code enforcement to address substandard housing and slum situations. Previously, city departments were not consistently enforcing our codes. The legislation also creates low interest loans for property owners who don't have the resources to fix their properties.

Expanding Access to Affordable Housing

We need to do everything we can to build more affordable housing in San Francisco. Scott has authored or supported various pieces of legislation to increase affordable housing:

  • Scott campaigned for the affordable housing trust fund, which will generate $1.5 billion for affordable housing.
  • Scott authored legislation to streamline and expedite the permit approval process for affordable housing, in order to create affordable housing faster.
  • Scott authored legislation and supported legislation to create a density bonus for buildings with a high percentage of affordable housing, in order to incentivize developers to create more affordable housing.
  • Scott authored several pieces of legislation to help people access affordable housing, including legislation to give San Francisco residents priority for affordable housing and legislation to create a program to educate LGBT people how to apply for affordable housing.
  • Scott obtained funding to create affordable housing for at-risk and homeless youth.
  • Scott co-authored a measure that will create significant funding for permanent affordable housing for homeless people.

Helping Fire Victims

We have too many fires, particularly in the Mission District, and Scott works to provide better options for people burned out of their units. A fire in one's home is traumatic enough without having to worry about whether you will become homeless or have to leave our city.

  • Scott authored the "Good Samaritan Ordinance," which allows landlords to enter into a temporary (1-2 years) lease with a fire-victim tenant at no more than 10% higher than the tenant's existing rent, so that the tenant has housing while his or her unit is being fixed. The program has been very successful.
  • Scott authored legislation providing low-income fire victims with priority for affordable housing.

Historic Preservation

San Francisco treasures our many historic buildings. We’re also a city that is constantly evolving. Scott is a leader on historic preservation issues - embracing the best of our city's historic architecture while embracing new types of architecture and the need for change. Scott has authored various pieces of legislation around historic preservation:

  • Legislation creating San Francisco's first new historic district in a decade, north of Duboce Park.
  • Legislation making it easier for homeowners to access historic preservation tax credits created under state law.
  • Legislation landmarking Twin Peaks Tavern, San Francisco's first gay bar with windows open to the street.
  • Legislation updating San Francisco's Planning Code chapters relating to historic preservation.

Short Term Rentals

Scott supports allowing people to earn needed income through short term rentals but does not support the cannibalization of our housing stock when people turn housing units into permanent hotels or evict tenants to create hotels. Scott supports good regulation and enforcement of the rules but does not support penalizing hosts who play by the rules. Scott opposed Prop F, which went too far cracking down on short term rentals. Scott conducts regular oversight hearings to ensure that the law on short term rentals is being enforced.

Disabled Access to Housing

Scott authored legislation to allow for exceptions to the Planning Code to ensure that people with disabilities are able to make changes to their homes necessary to have access to their housing.


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Paid for by Re-Elect Scott Wiener for State Senate 2020. FPPC # 1392654. 4035 18th St., San Francisco, CA 94114.

Near the following Muni lines: F, J, K, L, M, T, 22, 24, 33, 35

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