Economics/Class Relations

There are more than 40,000 vacant homes in San Francisco, report says


An estimated 40,458 homes and condos are sitting vacant in San Francisco, and that number could potentially go down if the city were to introduce a vacancy tax that would fine homeowners who leave their properties empty, a new report released Monday by the city’s budget and legislative analyst said.

The report was commissioned by Supervisor Dean Preston, who wanted to take a deep look at the scope of residential vacancies in San Francisco and explore whether vacancy tax policies adopted in other cities could help ease SF’s housing shortage.

Vancouver, British Columbia, is among the cities that have imposed an empty home tax. The Canadian city adopted the tax in 2016, and its overall vacancy rate decreased from 4.3% to 3.1% as a result, with 1,676 units returning to occupancy in 2018, followed by an additional 220 in 2019, the report said. Vancouver’s tax generated the equivalent of about $21.3 million in 2019; the city used the net proceeds for affordable housing initiatives, the report said.

Preston said that if San Francisco were to introduce a tax similar to the one in Vancouver, “just under 5,000 homes in two years would go from being vacant to occupied — that’s 90% of our annual new housing production.”


Leave a Reply