Want to rent this dumpster? San Francisco ‘rental’ photos strike a chord

A satirical "waterfront condo" listing from San Francisco photographer Scot Hampton. Scot Hampton

TORONTO – If you’ve ever scanned through home listings only to learn you can barely afford a dump, then one San Francisco photographer’s parody pictures are for you.

Scot Hampton has posted real estate-like descriptions to accompany shots of dumpsters, sewers, and mailboxes in his city with “For Rent” signs plastered on them.

The opening photo in the essay (above) is listed as a $5,000 “waterfront condo” in the “highly desirable, up-and-coming mid-Market area.”

“Enjoy the sounds and smells of the UN Plaza fountain as you relax in your condo after a hard day of complaining about the homeless. … 33 SQ. FT. Utilities not included, nor available,” he writes.

The sewer is described as a “spacious basement apartment” listed at $3,500.

A “basement apartment” rental listing, posted as part of a San Francisco photographer’s SF: For Rent series. Scot Hampton

“Classic architecture; very Romanesque and gothic! Arched interiors! Close to public transportation. … requires the use of a ladder for entry.”

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And then a mailbox dubbed “studio loft” for $3,000: “Government housing. Section 8 OK! Studio loft with vaulted ceiling!”

A satirical real estate listing from San Francisco photographer Scot Hampton. Scot Hampton

Click here to see the rest of Hampton’s “SF: For Rent” photo series on his blog

While San Francisco’s housing prices may be out of whack with what people make for a living, one urban planning think tank recently ranked Vancouver as second most unaffordable in the world –“beating” San Fran by one spot.

Demographia compared urban areas with over 1,000,000 residents in OECD countries around the world and found Vancouver’s “strong urban containment policies” have caused the city’s affordability to “deteriorate markedly.”

The average house price in Metro Vancouver was $670,300 in January 2014, which would require 80 per cent of the average median household income to service the mortgage. That’s more than 2.5 times the 32 per cent guideline set out by Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

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Not to mention the fact that million-dollar price tags don’t always match the luxury home image many potential buyers have in mind.

Just take a look at “Crack Shack or Mansion?” which took data from real Vancouver listings starting April 10, 2010.

The website easily confuses visitors as to whether listings are crack houses or expensive mansions with its photo voting game—eerily reminiscent of Hampton’s San Francisco pictures.

The latest craze in Vancouver is micro homes – a way to own a brand-new place for as little as $109,000, according to Surrey’s Balance project. Richmond-based developer Tien Sher started offering “Canada’s smallest-ever condominiums” — units starting at 297 square feet — in April 2013. Balance buyers will need incomes of at least $22,000; people making $17 an hour and up.

Micro condo
Canada’s smallest condominium unit, measuring 297 square feet, is unveiled in Surrey. Jason Payne/ PNG

And the “micro suite” may be catching on in Toronto, where the affordable housing situation isn’t much better.

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Smart House condos expects people to move into its “compact living” units in 2017—with a $250,000 price tag at 288 square feet. Toronto analysts are divided on whether it will be a good fit for single students, or unsustainable in the long-term as singles become couples, and then start having kids.

READ MORE: Are tiny homes the answer to affordable housing?

So what about sharing the cost and space of a regular-sized home?

Toronto city councillor Ana Bailao introduced a motion Tuesday that urges for a report in early 2015 on the potential for families to share a house in order to “address the affordability pressures faced by many Torontonians.”

Bailao’s motion would allow two or more families or individuals “to purchase and own a home together, thereby reducing their housing costs.”

“The shared ownership approach offers an affordable alternative to families who might otherwise leave the City,” reads her motion, which also suggests looking into best practices from Vancouver’s mixer mortgages and San Francisco’s Tenancy In Common agreements.

Watch below: Global News reporter Cindy Pom asks whether micro-condos are the way of the future. (Oct. 8, 2013)

With files from Global News’ Peter Meiszner


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