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Affordable Housing and Employment Patterns in the San Francisco Bay Area



How High-Wage Jobs Affect Affordable Housing


[01:31] Introduction of Dr. Chris Benner.

[02:29] Chris shares his background and what draws him to issues of economic and social equity and inclusion.

[04:46] Chris explains the importance of education for disadvantaged populations for our economic future.

[05:14] Chris explains a study of job growth in the San Francisco Bay Area.

[07:58] Chris gives information about the next study and how people can get access to it.

[08:39] Chris shares the report findings of a lack of housing affordability is causing displacement of residents and long commutes.

[10:58] Chris explains the report data of a significant number of low-wage jobs are being created but no new affordable housing units are being created.

[13:09] What are the policy implications? What can we do to fix this problem of no new affordable housing?

[16:23] Do you see any indication that there’s a movement to create inclusionary zoning or some kind of development incentives to create more affordable housing?

[18:00] Are San Franciscans changing how they think of themselves since the city’s character seems to be changing and it now seems to be a city that people can’t afford to live in?

[19:58] Chris explains, within a regional context, how residents are needed to have the basis for the sales tax to buy goods.

[21:20] Chris shares how he was made aware of the dynamic of people in poor communities who are shopping in other places that are benefiting from the tax dollars being spent there.

[23:46] Chris agrees that the poor pay more in regard to commuting time, cost of commuting, and quality-of-life and economic implications.

[24:25] Chris explains how the job, inequality, and political crises play out in the context of housing affordability and the overall quality of life in the Bay Area.

[28:19] Chris shares where people can go to learn more about his work.

[29:12] Chris shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.

[30:31] Chris explains the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.

[31:28] Chris shares what the world looks like 30 years from now.


Dr. Chris Benner is the Dorothy E. Everett Chair in Global Information and Social Entrepreneurship, Director of the Everett Program for Digital Tools for Social Innovation, and Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research focuses on the relationships between technological change, regional development, and structures of economic opportunity, focusing on regional labor markets and the transformation of work and employment patterns. He is the author of multiple books including Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions, co-authored with Manuel Pastor (Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California), which helps uncover the processes, policies and institutional arrangements that help explain how certain regions around the country have been able to consistently link prosperity and inclusion. His most recent book, also co-authored with Manuel Pastor is titled Equity, Growth, and Community: What the Nation Can Learn from America’s Metro Areas. Benner’s work has also included providing research assistance to a range of organizations promoting equity and expanded opportunity, including the Coalition on Regional Equity (Sacramento), Working Partnerships USA (San Jose), the California Labor Federation, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions among others. He received his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisBenner

Chris’ email is


The Everett Program – Digital Tools for Social Innovation at the University of California, Santa Cruz merges the enthusiasm of student leaders with information technology to promote structural social change by building social networking capacity across non-governmental and community-based organizations. Everett’s goal is create a new generation of “info-savvy” advocates using information technology to overcome informational exclusion–based barriers to civic participation and social justice. The learning goes both ways: While advancing the larger public good, Everett students accumulate valuable technical knowledge, while sharpening their leadership and project management skills.



“I got into this work…[had] sort of a broad interest in social-justice issues, both domestically and internationally, and for me that interest is really rooted in, just, I care about the future; and if you care about the future, you have to care about those populations that have been historically marginalized, because they are the future.”

“That commitment to education for disadvantaged populations is fundamental for our economic future because that is, in many ways, the current workforce as well as the future workforce.”

“We had 15,000 new low-wage jobs just in sort of a narrow categorization of industry categories like restaurants and other types of services. So you’ve got tremendous growth in those kind of jobs and just no new housing that’s available for that.”

“I think part of our challenge is the financing structure of local government, because in California…housing is a net drain on city resources. The cost of services to new residents in the forms of, you know, the water and sewage and electricity and garbage and fire and police and all the things going with that, the cost is higher than the local revenue that comes from property taxes.”


Infinite Earth Radio Ep. 002 Equitable Development and Economic Growth with Dr. Manuel Pastor

Equity, Growth, and Community: What the Nation Can Learn from America’s Metro Areas

Get a free digital copy of the book

Find the book on Amazon

The Everett Program – Digital Tools for Social Innovation at the University of California, Santa Cruz

University of California, Santa Cruz – Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California

Dr. Chris Benner’s TED talk

Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions Find the book on Amazon


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