In parts of San Francisco, a six-figure salary is still 'low-income'

Escalating home prices, job availability have combined to make $117,400 salary 'low-income' by HUD standards

LIVE NOW: Inman Connect San Francisco
Tune-in now to catch the livestream. Don't miss this chance to see real estate leaders tackle the industry's top problems.

In some parts of San Francisco, $117,400 a year — a princely sum in most cities and states — might not be enough to elevate a family of four from a “low-income” designation under Department of Housing and Urban Development standards.

On Monday, HUD released the latest income brackets for major cities in the US. In San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties, the salary required for a family of four to get out of the dreaded ‘low-income’ bracket skyrocketed to $117,400.

Coupled with rising home values in San Francisco, where in April prices shot up by 10.9 percent to an average cost of $935,000, some Bay Area residents suspect a mass exodus from the city is all but inevitable over the coming years.

“Jobs and housing are really the primary criteria driving people’s decisions,” Hans Johnson, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, told The Chronicle in March. “It’s kind of a balancing act between the two. If jobs predominate, people are moving in. If housing predominates, you have less people moving in.”

While the average income bracket varies depending on the county, no region of the city has a ‘low-income’ bracket lower than $66,000, according to an SFGate report published Monday. San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties draw the line at $117,400 while Contra Costa and Solano’s low-income brackets cap out at $89,600 and $66,950, respectively.

What’s more, $73,300 for a family of four would be considered ‘very low-income’ in the most affluent of the counties: San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. Nationally, median household income comes nowhere close to that at $57,617 in 2016.

In some Bay Area counties, the lowest income bracket rose by 10 percent year-over-year, in part due to rising home prices. In San Francisco, home prices surged by 10.9 percent, to an average cost of $935,000 this year, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price NSA Index, announced Tuesday.

Beside San Francisco, Seattle and Las Vegas are also among the hottest markets, with the former tallying the strongest gains with a 13.1 percent year-over-year increase and the latter spiking 12.7 percent, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

“Looking back to the peak of the boom in 2006, 10 of the 20 cities tracked by the indices are higher than their peaks; the other 10 are below their high points,”said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The National Index is also above its previous all-time high, the 20-city index slightly up versus its peak, and the 10-city is a bit below.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko