February 5, 2018 Corey Smith

Statecraft Looks to Quantify Housing Production

Recently, the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition’s Regulatory Committee heard from Yury Lifshits, co-founder of Statecraft. Statecraft’s goal is pretty straightforward: use data to help us understand how housing gets built in San Francisco and beyond. Statecraft consolidates public reports on preliminary project applications (PPAs), Planning Commission entitlements, and construction permits with the goal of having a better understanding of the housing pipeline.

Inspired by the late Mayor Lee’s Executive Director to have the City build 5,000 new homes every single year, Lifshits wanted to understand if we were trending towards that goal. By understanding the current pipeline, Statecraft makes projections on future housing production. After conversations with the City and a deep statistical analysis of past housing production, we’re confident that these projections are as accurate as we’ve ever seen.

So what else is available on Statecraft? For those in the design and build community, Statecraft has started to develop a repository for individual developers and general contractors. Statecraft allows users to slice and dice the information based on different permit data or building size.  Statecraft also confirmed that they are looking at the potential of trying to consolidate construction cost information.  They’ve also explored the idea of understanding “lost units”, ie projects that are downsized between the initial proposal and construction.

So how exactly does this impact the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition’s advocacy? First, we believe that data should be used, whenever possible, to help inform our housing policies. If San Francisco is trending far below the 5,000 new unit goal – it’s best for us to know early on (years in advance if possible) so we can advocate for logical changes to our housing policies. Second, it helps us understand where the bottlenecks exist in the housing production process. By quantifying the timeline it takes to go from one step to the next, we’re hopeful to find opportunities to improve the process. Last, it’s a wonderful database to help us schedule building tours.

We’re also excited to announce that the SFHAC has hired Statecraft to create a digital housing dashboards for our website. So stay tuned!

Corey Smith

Corey Smith is HAC's Executive Director and can be reached at corey@housingactioncoalition.org.

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