Statement of purpose
As LGBTQQIA+ youth and allies we believe it is important to address houselessness and gentrification within the SF Bay Area community. Due to the criminalization of houseless people, unlivable wages, lack of affordable housing and the pushing out of working class families within San Francisco, we are seeking to empower community members affected by houselessness and gentrification. By creating a website that has educational and community resources, along with personal stories and a printable/digital map with resource locations; we are aiming to raise awareness, improve access to education and community resources regarding houselessnes and gentrification. Through conducting community outreach surveys and ethically collecting community stories we are making an effort to uplift and center our community’s voices who have faced displacement and houselessness due to gentrification and systemic inequities. With the creation of a website that provides resources, community stories and data we are taking an incremental step towards creating an accessible community platform that can further inform future community justice initiatives and provide resource tools to those affected by these injustices.
Below CLP has collected a few stories from community members within San Francisco. A part of the CLP Spring 2021 cohort’s goal is to provide a platform for community members to tell their stories and speak on how the housing crisis and gentrification affects long time community members within SF. Through the sharing of these stories, community members highlight the need for more affordable housing, an end to the violent displacement of marginalized communities within the Bay Area due to gentrification, and more investment in society’s basic needs for housing, food and much more. We welcome everyone to engage with these stories respectfully and with an open mind. Thank you to all who have participated in sharing their stories, we send them much love, light and strength.
“I became homeless in November of 2019. I got kicked out of the house I lived in because rent started shooting up like crazy. I worked two jobs in the service industry; a restaurant in downtown San Francisco and the other in Oakland. I searched for housing desperately but couldn’t find anything in my pay range. I began living in an old Ford Windstar van I was renting from an elderly man who allowed me to buy the car in monthly installments (later down the road). During that time, I decided I needed to find housing through the city of San Francisco or even Alameda County. I hit the lottery for one of the newer buildings being built in Berkeley, but they were asking that the renter make 2 times the rent. Rent was about 1,800 at that spot and I made nowhere near that per month, even with both jobs.
Then March 2020 came around and COVID forced businesses to close and workers to lose their jobs. It was like one day to the next everything changed for me. I’d only been living in the van for about 4 months thinking everything was about to get better, but to my surprise, it only became more uncertain. I had already gotten used to going to the gym in the AM to “maybe” workout but mainly to shower and get ready for my day. I was also attending school at City College and taking a course at SFSU, so I would head to a café that offered WiFi to do homework, head to work on Bart, and then head back to the van and move it to a safe place for the night. This was my daily schedule but once COVID hit, everything was abruptly halted. I could no longer shower at the gym because that closed. Café’s, libraries/restaurants, and schools no longer allowed people to sit inside or even outside. The small number of places that allowed you to sit outside required you to order food, but how could I? I needed to limit my food intake to one meal per day and so I had to wait for the Chinese food spots to open because they served a hefty amount that I could portion out two to three meals.
I tried to apply for Section 8 but I was constantly discouraged by the offices of the city of SF since their waitlist was high and they told me I would have to wait from 2-10 years for a place to live. I can’t even remember how many nights I could not sleep because of the headaches of constantly crying. I lost my work and living off of EDD was not how I saw myself living at 26 years old. I was also scared that I was not going to be able to pursue my bachelor’s at SFSU, but fortunately, I did get my FAFSA reconsidered for Fall 2020.
I had not realized how much houselessness affected me or how it has constructed parts of me. As I wrote this experience, I cried. I cry because I can’t believe how many unsure nights and hungry days I would go to work, and still be expected to show up happy and work through it as if nothing was happening to me. I can’t imagine the others that go through this that have far more problems than me. This experience changes the way you value yourself, the way you see yourself. I felt as if I didn’t deserve better and that as long as I live in my van, I should be happy and grateful. I was scared and worried constantly because I did not want to be in my van forever.
However, I began searching for help as a student through SFSU and found the PATHS program. I was able to get help with finding housing and getting some aid until I could find work. I found housing and now searching for work that will not interfere with school. I was never going to believe that in the city I was raised and lived in, I was going to be houseless as well. It changed the way I saw my city by the bay. I hope it changes and it realizes that those of us who create the working class is the reason why the city runs after all.”
“I’ve had a few experiences with homelessness in San Francisco. I don’t recall at all but for a brief moment in my infancy, my family was homeless, though I don’t know most of the details– I remember when I was around 5-6, my [neglectful] mum had my brother and beg for money outside of a KFC, which she probably used for drugs. Nearly as long as I can remember, I’ve lived with just my dad and brother, and occasionally a pet or few. We lived at a house that was around $3,500/a month from 2008-2014, we attempted to buy/own the house multiple times to no avail. In March-April 2014, my dad’s job burned down and the horrendous landlord gave us about 2 weeks to pay or get out, if we didn’t leave by the last day, there’d be an eviction on our record but luckily we left at around 4-5am on the last day. I essentially had to drop out of 8th grade, as we had to move ASAP. We decided to stay in Colorado with my dad’s childhood friends until we found a house, but first had to find some places to move our stuff: luckily my dad’s friend let us keep a lot of our stuff in his giant garage. We stayed in Colorado for a while and then my dad went back to San Francisco to get our things and bring them to Colorado, but unfortunately when my dad left, the people basically treated us like slaves, they made us wake up at 5:30am everyday and wash all of the dishes multiple times a day and pick weeds in the blazing heat and clean the stairs with a toxic chemical, etc. Colorado was beautiful and I do have some fond memories of it but those people were the absolute worst. Once my dad heard about how awful they were treating us, he tried to hurry back to Colorado ASAP, but was so tired one evening, he swerved and crashed the van and it flipped multiple times– luckily he was perfectly fine. As soon as we heard about the incident, the first thing the people asked us were, “Do you have any other family because if your dad’s not okay, you can’t stay here” The whole family seemed absolutely heartless. For a while, we stayed at a different friend’s house in Colorado and eventually, we had to go back to San Francisco to get more of our stuff. There was one time where we slept in a car and a officer knocked on our window and said that sleeping in a car is illegal in San Francisco, and that if we get caught doing it again, they’d take us away and arrest my dad, so we’d have to drive to Oakland and sleep in rest stops for a while. We ate at the soup kitchen regularly until they started asking us personal questions– we didn’t want them to take us away from our dad. We ended up staying with my brother’s friend, Ama and her family, and we stayed there until November 2014, when the housing authority finally responded to my dad’s housing request that he made like,, either when I was born or 10 years before in 2004, and we luckily finally had a house. Now that we had a house, my brother and I enrolled at a secondary school as it was too late to start a normal school, but that school was awesome! My family and I were homeless for nearly 9 months in 2014, and treated awful by our then-landlord and no surprise that the police sucked too, but luckily we were provided some shelter by friends, most of the time.”
“I am a second generation bay area kid raised all over the east bay mostly oakland and hercules and punjab. I had to leave the country for a long period of time due to the harsh conditions my family faced as poor immigrants. I have never been able to secure a place or pay rent on time as I don’t have support from my family. I have been outspoken in the anti gentrification movement but have faced alot of harassment and violation of my right to exist by gentrifiers and grifters. Despite being from here I have constantly had a lack of welcoming presence and affection in my home from intruders that have saw to my family losing our places of living. This is not just something that has happened to me but 99% of my peers that I have grown up with.”
This document, presented by the CLP research committee, compiles research and resources on houselessness and gentrification. There are four main sections: links to resources for those affected by gentrification and/or houselessness, links to donations/ways to help those affected, historical context, and modern day facts and research on houselessness and gentrification. The aim of our research is to provide accessible online resources for people affected by houselessness and gentrification, and to help educate others on the history, facts, causes and effects of houselessness and gentrification.
Urban Displacement Project
The UDP is a good resource for in-depth educational resources, research, and connections to organizations highlighting gentrification, urban displacement, and housing policies in the Bay Area. This specific link has a section dedicated to resources on urban displacement which includes:
- Explaining and defining what gentrification and residential displacement are, also have Youtube videos as explanation
- A section of research and works published by the Urban Displacement Project
- A section of organizations and research (names of housing policy organizations and advocates) specific to the Bay Area, to California, and on a national level
San Francisco Anti-Displacement Coalition
A guide for San Francisco renters/tenants to know their rights, get connected to legal and counseling support organizations, get rent relief, and so on.
- They have a special section for COVID-19
- They offer English, Chinese, Spanish, Filipino, Vietnamese, Arabic
- Their words: “The San Francisco Anti Displacement Coalition is a group of tenant organizations and allies who organize against the soaring evictions and rent increases in our city, which have resulted in the displacement of thousands of San Franciscans.”
Causa Justa :: Just Cause
Bayview office info:
Address: 2145 Keith Street, San Francisco, CA 94124
Phone: (415) 864-8372
Fax: (415) 487-9022
San Francisco office info:
Address: 2301 Mission Street, Suite 201, San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone: (415) 487-9203
Fax: (415) 487-9022
Oakland office info:
Address: 1419 34th Ave., #203, Oakland, CA 94601
Main Phone: (510) 763-5877
Tenants’ Rights Clinic Phone: 510.TENANTS (510.836.2687)
- Their words: “A multi-racial, grassroots organization building community leadership to achieve justice for low-income San Francisco and Oakland residents.”
- Especially centered for Black and Latino residents – emphasizes unity between Black and Brown communities
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Asian Law Caucus)
Phone: (415) 896-1701
Fax: (415) 896-1702
Address: 55 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94111
- Free legal services and advice for immigration, housing, worker’s rights, criminal justice, and national and security rights.
- Their words: “The nation’s first legal and civil rights organization serving low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Pacific American communities.” Offering services in many Asian languages, and Spanish and English too.
Homeless Prenatal Program
Phone: (415) 546-6756
Fax: (415) 546-6778
Address: 2500 18th St. San Francisco, CA, 94110 USA
- This program’s mission is to break the cycle of childhood poverty and support those going through pregnancy and parenthood with housing and other services
- Their words: “The Homeless Prenatal Program is a nationally-recognized family resource center in San Francisco that empowers homeless and low-income families, particularly mothers motivated by pregnancy and parenthood, to find within themselves the strength and confidence they need to transform their lives.”
Organizations on Instagram where you can reach out directly:
- Gay Shame SF: A queer run anti gentrification direct action collective. https://www.instagram.com/gay.shame/
- SF Neighbor Solidarity Network: Providing resources to folks most affected by gentrification. https://www.instagram.com/sfneighborssolidaritynetwork/
ways to help – donations
SF Homeless Project
- Website: https://projects.sfchronicle.com/sf-homeless/how-to-help/
- A site containing links to actual physical and online locations of organizations or places to donate for houselessness
- Includes 102 non profit organizations with descriptions, locations, websites, emails, phone numbers, and volunteer options
- Their words: “A directory of nonprofit groups that need donations of specific items or volunteer help.”
Project Homeless Connect
- Website: https://www.projecthomelessconnect.org/donate/in-kind-donations/
- Phone: +1 (855) 588-7968
- Email: email@example.com
- Address: 1031 Franklin Street, Second Floor, San Francisco, CA 94109
- This site has a section for “in-kind donations” which provides an Amazon Wishlist and guide of what types of donations are needed
- Their words: “The Mission of Project Homeless Connect is to connect San Franciscans experiencing homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness with the care they need to move forward.”
“17 Resources to Learn About Gentrification, Racial Justice in the Bay Area”
- Website: https://thebolditalic.com/it-starts-at-home-17-resources-to-learn-about-gentrification-and-racial-justice-in-the-bay-area-97ba59f68097
- An article centered around the Black Lives Matter movement and educating ourselves on Black history in the Bay Area (which includes gentrification/segregation)
- Includes 17 podcasts, books, and other educational resources
MODERN DAY FACTS & RESEARCH
The table below shows case studies to examine the effects of gentrification in the Bay Area.
All information from: https://www.urbandisplacement.org/case-studies/ucb
As LGBTQQIA+ youth and allies we believe it is important to address houselessness and gentrification within the SF Bay Area community. This map includes locations to housing support, pantries, and other resources throughout San Francisco.
We asked San Francisco residents to take a survey so we can learn more about our community and how gentrification/housing in San Francisco has affected them. We got 20 responses and 55% were 19-25, while the other 45% were 12-18 years old. Most participants identified as Latinx/a/e/o(55%), East Asian(20%), Black/African American(15%), while there were 0% of european/caucasians who took the survey. Most had three to five people in their households and 65% have struggled with paying rent. 30% have experienced houselessness. 55% say they haven’t received any community/government support with evictions or finding affordable housing due to the cost, locations, language barriers, etc. 85% of residents think that gentrification strongly impacts the city’s housing crisis.
We asked how they think the housing crisis should be addressed and over all people emphasized the need for the mayor to do more things such as: making rent no more that 30% of monthly income, using vacant buildings as affordable housing, investing more in affordable housing and providing individuals within SF with more opportunities to learn about the housing crisis and providing financial aid to help one stay housed. Below are direct quotes from youth within San Francisco on how to address the housing crisis.
“I would like to know about community organizations that help individuals/families of color become homeowners within the city, in addition to resources that help tenants.”
“Education. Simple, yet effective brochures that give a basic breakdown about the components to the housing crisis can be addressed through communities.“
“I think housing costs should only equate to about 30% of monthly income”
“better allocation of funds; i.e using funding to build affordable housing rather than using funding for ‘research to solve homelessness‘”
“Affordable housing and better financial aid for those under the poverty line”
“I’m not too sure but I think it should be addressed more around the city because not many people know where to find resources.”
“I’m not sure, but I think that building affordable housing is a start, or converting vacant buildings into affordable housing.”
“Not allowing upper class white supremacist to take advantage of people who are already struggling to make ends meet.”
“Raising the rent when none of the tenants are getting raises is ridiculous.”
“Gentrification isn’t helping! We need to consider the low income families who these homes are being built for but for extreme prices. This isn’t helping them.”
“There needs to be a rent limit. Rent should only cost 30% of your income. Nothing more.”Help us find out more and take our survey here!