Report: San Francisco residents have to choose between two American dreams

A new report seems to indicate that San Francisco residents are having to choose between two American dreams: having a family and owning their own home.

For most families living within walking distance to a park is a dream, but Stefanie Hodapp says she feels stuck renting, but not buying, in one of San Francisco’s most desirable neighborhoods. She says it's nearly impossible for her family to raise two kids, pay rent, and save up to buy a home. 

"That's kind of why I say we're stuck in the Mission. Because we like the idea of moving someplace, but we think about it and where our money is going, we want it to go somewhere that's not just drained in the hole of renting," said Hodapp.

A new study of census data compiled and studied by Rentcafe shows that between 2006 and 2016 the number of San Francisco households with kids and a mortgage dropped by 31,000, or by about 10 percent.

At the same time the number of families renting rose by 57,000, a 33 percent increase.

Real estate economist Ralph McLaughlin says families are having to make a tough call between two classic American dreams: a family and a home. "And when the costs of both go up, what seems to be playing out is that people are making the decision to have the family and rent, rather than not have a family and own a home," he saidsaid.

San Francisco is following a national trend, with more families renting nationwide following the recession.

All of this is playing out as San Francisco grapples with a demographic shift toward higher wage earners driving up prices. "They are better able to compete in a housing market compared to a family who also has to pay for all the things a family needs to pay for, education, sports, tutoring, for health care or whatever, and they don't have that extra budget to put into a home," said McLaughlin.

Our economist says one of the ways families build wealth is through property ownership, being able to leave property to your children can give them a leg up in buying a home of their own. Being locked out of the housing market can reinforce the economic gap between property owners and renters.