A new report published by wealth analysis company Wealth-X says that San Francisco has the highest density of billionaires in the world—higher than New York, Dubai, and Hong Kong. SFGate reports that the number of billionaires in San Francisco averages one out of every 11,600 residents. Sounds awesome for that one out of every 11,600. In not unrelated news, the Bay Area is home to the third-highest population of unhoused people in the United States. The Bay Area Economic Council reports:
By virtually every measure, the Bay Area’s homeless crisis ranks among the worst in the United States. The Bay Area has the third largest population of people experiencing homelessness (28,200) in the U.S., behind only New York City (76,500) and Los Angeles (55,200), according to Point-in-Time counts. The Bay Area also shelters a smaller proportion of its homeless (33 percent) than any metropolitan area in the U.S. besides Los Angeles (25 percent), making the crisis highly visible across the region. The absolute size of the Bay Area’s homeless population, combined with the region’s dearth of temporary shelter options and an insufficient supply of supportive housing, desensitizes the public and condemns the homeless to lives of hardship.
But tech billionaires! Let’s be clear about the numbers we are discussing. That high rate of billionaires? It’s based on very few people having most of the money.
San Francisco has the third-highest number of billionaires total with 75. New York comes in No. 1 with 105 and Hong Kong at No. 2 with 87.
That means that San Francisco has around 376 times as many homeless folks as it does billionaires. That means New York has about 765 times as many unhoused people as it does billionaires. Keep in mind that much of the reporting on homeless people in various areas of the country is not always based on the federal definition of homelessness—meaning that there are places such as Contra Costa County in the Bay Area that have shown declines in the homeless population over the past 10 years, but have also changed their definition of who is homeless based on, for example, who is "actively homeless in our system of care."
A big cause of what is happening in places such as the Bay Area and New York City is a lack of affordable housing. When you have people living with huge increases in rent that they can’t afford, you are going to end up with more and more people unhoused. When only 13% of the residents in your city can afford a median-priced home there, you’re going to have people unhoused. And if you aren’t building affordable housing fast enough, and protecting your existing renters, people will find themselves in the streets, asking for help. But it is not a coincidence that the cities with the wealthiest individuals also have the most people without consistent shelter. That is the nature of income inequality. The more the wealth is concentrated at the top, the less there is dispersed at the bottom.