SAN FRANCISCO — When does a dirty dumpster start to look like a waterfront condo? When you're living in San Francisco, the country's most expensive real-estate market.
A photographer no longer able to afford living in the city recently took pictures of things like dumpsters, mail boxes and manhole covers after putting "for rent" signs on them. He then paired them with tongue-in-cheek apartment listings showing the absurdity of surging prices in a series he calls "SF: For Rent."
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Priced out of the city and now living across the Bay in Alameda, photographer Scot Hampton told HuffPost he got the idea after seeing Craigslist ads offering living-room couches or backyard tents as alternatives to bedrooms.
"I wanted to make a statement about it. It's humorous and depressing," said Hampton, who once considered renting a closet as a bedroom in San Francisco. "Those prices I put on there were almost too close to reality."
For one image, which he listed on Craigslist, Hampton photographed a graffiti-covered dumpster in a public plaza in a rundown section of the city undergoing redevelopment. His mock advertisement prices it at $5,000, and offers the following selling points: "Waterfront condo in the highly desirable, up-and-coming mid-Market area. Luxurious living at its finest! 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."
At the start of the year, the average rental price per bedroom was $3,250 in the well-heeled Pacific Heights neighborhood, according to data from real-estate site Trulia. In the seedy Tenderloin district, one bedrooms averaged $1,898.
Affordable housing advocate Peter Cohen says Hampton's photos would be funny if there weren't such a critical urban problem behind them.
"You just have to take it as a lighthearted moment of humor in an environment that's very serious for folks," said Cohen, who is co-director of the San Francisco Council of Community Housing Organizations. "It's smart, it's cute and it's attention grabbing."
Check out Scot Hampton's "SF: For Rent" listings: