Prioritizing Affordability for the Richmond

Our neighborhood is far from immune from the housing crisis

By: Sandra Lee Fewer

My husband John and I live in the same neighborhood where we grew up, went to school and fell in love. It wasn’t easy to become a property owner in San Francisco even thirty years ago when we bought the fixer-upper we still live in today. John juggled four jobs and I clipped coupons so that we could afford — what seemed like then — a huge mortgage.

Sadly, for many San Franciscans putting down roots in the city they love has become impossible.

The rising cost of housing has forced too many to leave, and they probably won’t be back. The exodus of these long-time residents, working families, and new graduates threatens to change San Francisco forever.

The Richmond District is far from immune to the affordability crisis facing the City. According to the latest figures from the San Francisco Rent Board, the Richmond has seen more Ellis Act evictions than any neighborhood in the City. And, we’ve had the second highest number of owner move-in evictions.

As a two-term member of the SF School District’s Board of Education, I saw the City’s affordable housing shortage take an enormous toll on the public school community. I’ve worked hard to find remedies to minimize its impact on children and their education.

Among the policies I’ve championed are:
 • A ban on owner move-in evictions for families during the school year so kids can stay in school while their families look for a new home;
 • The same protections for teachers so they can stay on the job until the end of the academic calendar; and
 • The transformation of a surplus school district site into affordable housing for families. Today, the property houses the City’s first Navigation Center designed to transition homeless San Franciscans into stable housing. It will eventually it will be home to 152 units of permanently affordable housing.

More work must be done and it won’t be easy. Only 14 percent of all housing currently under construction will be within reach for San Franciscans earning less than $85,000 a year, according to the City’s Planning Department. That means public school teachers, healthcare workers, fire and police personnel, the backbone of any community, can’t afford to live here.

Add to that, the demolitions and owner move-in evictions that will take a large number of rent-controlled homes off the market and the future looks especially grim.

As a newly elected member of the Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC), I promise to champion policies that maintain our supply of affordable rentals while looking for ways to add more units. If I’m elected to the SF Board of Supervisors in the fall, I will reach out to a broad coalition to find creative answers to the affordable housing shortage in our neighborhood.

Among the solutions I support are:
 • Additional use of surplus public lands for affordable housing;
 • Increased funding for tenant counselling services in the Richmond to protect residents from illegal rent increases and evictions; and
 • “Density done right,” meaning that new construction should not displace existing residents. And, all new housing developments should include a significant percentage of affordable units.
 • A greater focus on 100 percent affordable housing projects on underused properties in San Francisco. Successful projects like Bernal Gateway, Market Heights and Britton Court were bankrolled by union workers’ pension funds, an innovative funding source for an affordable housing development.

John and I hope to spend our senior years in San Francisco. Our greatest wish is that our three kids, like us, can raise their families in the City where they were born.

To learn more about my policy priorities as a candidate for District 1 Supervsior, go to www.sandrafewer.com/issues