By Sarah Carpenter

If you live in the Bay, you’ve heard the term “housing crisis.” And there is no doubt that we are in one.

But what I’m finding out is that we are actually living in two different housing crises. I am used to thinking about the crisis being centered around homelessness, the effect of neglect during gentrification.

But when I read SB827, a California bill introduced by Senator Scott Wiener that would award housing development bonuses to projects in “transit-rich” zones, I realized something.

Some people aren’t talking about homelessness when they talk about the housing crisis.

In a town hall Wiener gave in San Francisco last month, he cited reasons for the bill. He said that businesses can’t grow because they can’t attract people to live in the area, since housing is so limited.

It’s Wiener’s intention to solve the housing crisis by building more housing, which sounds intuitive at first. But he’s not talking about building housing that the currently homeless or housing insecure can hope to afford.

And it would be a mistake to say that he’s talking about building housing so that affordability trickles down. Research from UC Berkeley indicates that it takes decades before housing costs decline to low-income affordability, assuming the original housing was designed for middle-income households. In Alameda County, a single person making $50,000 a year is considered low-income.

Wiener is talking about building housing to attract more outsiders to expand the tech industry in the Bay Area — it’s not going to be anywhere near affordable housing.

Sarah Carpenter is a writer for Oakland Post and Co-Editor-In-Chief of The Laney Tower. Contact her at