“If we can’t afford to live here, there is no city.”

July 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

 Go Gray Panthers! The last newsletter of the San Francisco Gray Panthers had an illuminating section entitled “Housing is a Right.” Yes, housing is a right in paper. However, as I documented in my dissertation, it is harder and harder to afford a one-bedroom in cities like San Francisco. It is so hard that one better attend a “Senior Survival School” where activist teach how to fight notices of evictions of landlords that want to get rid of old tenants. What is the problem? The rent of the old solo dweller may not rise dramatically thanks to a policy called “rent control”. Another hurdle that older solo dweller find is that getting subsidized rent under Section 8 is extremely hard to get. These are just two examples.

Hopefully I will soon publish an article with most of my findings.

The great piece written by the Gray Panthers is below, a lot of food for thought….


Governments exist, by the consent of the people, to facilitate and provide for the people’s basic needs—food, healthcare and housing. In our city, housing is becoming something only for the wealthy. Realtors view hi-tech companies minting millionaires as a pool of eager buyers. If these millionaires can’t find a multi-million dollar Victo- rian, they can wait for proposed multi-million dollar condos like the 134 unit 8 Washington. Pacific Waterfront Partners expect to make $470 million from this high-rise.

More Give-Aways: The city gave private developer Hines of Houston the right to build a 1070-foot high-rise, the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast, on our public land set aside for the new Transbay Terminal. Low-income people will be priced out of their South of Market neighborhood as property values are expected to rise by nearly $4 billion! And what will be the impact on residents and transportation of the proposed arena to lure the Warriors basketball team to SF? All supervisors supported this one and waived the city’s competitive bidding requirements so developers can take over Piers 30-32 and seawall 330.

The amount of SF affordable housing last year fell by 63%. Rental prices have climbed 26% since last December. Of the 12,330 housing units completed through 2011, only 37% were affordable. ABAG (Assoc. of Bay Area Govern- ments) states that we need 31,200 new units by 2014, 60% to be affordable. Mayor Lee’s affordable housing fund calls for 9,000 units only. The devil is in the details of the Lee plan, one of which has already surfaced: developers can reduce by 20% how much on-site affordable housing they must build. Meaning they can throw up units unaffordable to most of us in a “desirable area” and shuffle off most “affordable units” elsewhere. Studies cite an income of $50-70 thousand yearly to live in SF. Those “greedy city retirees’” average income is $30,000, and the majority fall below that. As one Western Addition resident said about gentrification, “If we can’t afford to live here, there is no city.”


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