In San Francisco, where the flourishing tech industry has increased demand for housing, causing real estate prices to soar, eviction numbers have also steadily risen. Between 2014 and 2015 alone, evictions filed to the San Francisco Rent Board rose 6%, according to the board's annual report. It's a problem the city has battled before: the dotcom boom of the 1990s saw even worse eviction rates.
A Bay Area nonprofit called Anti-Eviction Mapping Project documents the eviction and displacement of city residents through data visualization and digital mapping. For its latest graphic, the project partnered with the mapping technology company CartoDB to map eviction rates by neighborhood, demographic group, and rent. By comparing these datasets, the researchers were able to visualize the correlation between the number of evictions in a certain area and the area's make-up both in terms of rental prices and demographic.
"The story of evictions is complicated," says CartoDB data scientist Andy Eschbacher, who created the map. "We wanted to look at a lot of different factors affecting it and look for correlations." To do that, he pulled together a number of different data sets, including eviction data from San Francisco Rent Board , census data from the American Community Survey, and median rent estimates from the real estate company Zillow.
The map is color-coded to show the number of evictions per 10,000 households in a given area. There's also a sidebar that shows the number of evictions per demographic category—i.e. high-rise urbanites; wealthy transplants; median-income Asian and Hispanic residents—that the researchers created from 150 different census variables. Click on a demographic and the visualization will show you where that demographic is most concentrated on the map and how many people have been evicted from that area. For example, in the areas where the demographic "high-rise urbanites" are most concentrated, median rent is over $4,000 and 872 people were evicted in 2015. In the areas coded for the "wealthy transplants displacing long-term local residents" demographic, 405 people were evicted that year.
Eschbacher notes a few major social patterns that the map data reveals. For example, 67% of evictions in 2015 are in areas with high rises, high incomes, and/or areas that are now wealthy and white. Additionally, if you toggle the median rent sidebar to around $4,300 (the average rent in San Francisco right now), you can see that there is a 32% higher rate of eviction in areas of the city that are above median rent compared to areas below median rent. Predictably, the same areas filled with high rises and wealthy residents are also the places where you have the most evictions.
It would be easy to blame the tech industry for pushing out San Francisco's poorer residents. But the story is more complicated—even relatively well-paid tech workers are feeling the pinch. Ironically, a new law designed to protect San Francisco residents may actually be encouraging evictions. Perhaps it's time for more drastic measures.
To see the map in full, go here.