Every night in San Francisco 3,134 people sleep outside. This is not an accident, it is not a situation that is beyond our control. SF City government has institutionalized homeless encampments by sending unhoused residents to the streets from Navigation Centers, shelters, and hospitals; and by not building enough housing.
Currently, the city spends $29.3 million per year managing and responding to our encampment crisis. $20.6 million for police response to encampments and $8.7 million for Department of Public Works (DPW) in clean up costs.
We have to do better.
The city estimates that meeting San Francisco's need for affordable housing would require building 1300 units per year. Currently we build an about 300. YIMBY Action is running a ballot measure that would help the city build enough supportive housing to meet our needs.
Homelessness is San Francisco’s biggest problem. It falls particularly heavily on District 6. Solving homelessness can’t be accomplished with only one program or only one strategy, we have to make efforts in three categories: prevention, management and cure.
Before I became active in politics, I was a high school math teacher, so I know first hand the challenges teachers face finding affordable housing. In fact, the high costs of rent and transportation are exactly what drove me to become politically active.
I am thrilled that this year there will be two measures before the voters designed to help teachers afford to stay in San Francisco and continue to teach at our public schools.
Update! Read part 1 here.
On November 28th Supervisors Jeff Sheehy and London Breed introduced legislation that would establish an Office of Tenant Assistance to provide full scope legal representation to San Francisco tenants in certain eviction proceedings. Read the legislation here.
I'm thrilled the Board of Supervisors is moving forward with this important proposal.
It's hard to argue against housing. Housing is such an obviously good thing - we all want it. It's at the base of our hierarchy of needs. It protects us from the weather, it keeps our kids safe, it keeps our stuff safe and in one place, it gives us privacy. It seems silly to even enumerate why we like it & why we need it.
“This year, Sonja impressed me as an organizer working to help pass a historic package of state housing bills I championed with fellow California legislators to address the crisis. I saw firsthand Sonja’s appreciation for the details of sound, practical policy, her understanding of the advocacy needed to overcome political obstacles, her ethics and her values.”
Geographic Equity is the idea that controversial services, like housing for the formerly homeless and marijuana dispensaries (MCDs), should be spread out all over the city.
Supervisor Kim introduced, and voted for resolutions that would promote Geographic Equity in the abstract*, but when it came time last week to actually permit one of these uses in the Sunset, Supervisor Kim forgot about Geographic Equity.
On social media yesterday, a minor firestorm erupted over an essay I wrote in late 2014, when I was still making $30,000 a year working as a math teacher at a private high school.
In it, I make a call for mass housing. I wanted, and still want, someone like myself at the time - someone making $15/ hour - to have access to quality housing, without being on a wait list, and without paying more than I could afford.
As San Francisco changes, we have to be thoughtful about the needs of existing residents. In particular, the city should carefully consider how to ensure that long term residents can continue to access essential services like groceries and laundry facilitates.
Laundromats are an essential neighborhood serving businesses and the city is losing them steadily, often for reasons beyond the city’s control. People who don’t have their own in-unit laundry services - and will never get them because the building they live in is too old - rely on neighborhood laundromats.
Tomorrow the Planning Commission will be considering an application for discretionary review that I filed. The landlords of Little Hollywood laundromat are asking for a change of use permit, so that Little Hollywood Laundromat can be turned into a restaurant.
I'm asking the Planning Commission to oppose this proposed change of use, because closing the laundromat would be a hardship for the residents that rely on it and use it.
Preventing displacement has always been the goal of my housing advocacy work. The most effective way of preventing displacement is to make sure that people have access to their rights as tenants. The tenants movement in San Francisco has successfully won many tenant protections. Unfortunately, not all tenants have access to lawyers to defend them against unfair and illegal evictions.
"I support Sonja. She's played a key role in launching and growing the pro-housing movement, and she will help San Francisco move to a positive housing future," said Senator Scott Wiener.
Thanks for being with me as I kick off my campaign to represent District 6 for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
If you're new to town, welcome! I'm committed to fight for a more inclusive and welcoming San Francisco -- a city where everyone is entitled to safe and clean streets, a place to sleep at night, and a bright future. (The Board of Supervisors, by the way, is what people in most other cities call a city council.)
If you're a long-time San Franciscan, thank you. This city represents a unique and strongly-held set of values, and sets an example to the rest of the country. I'm expecting my first child in the fall, and I'm committed to protect those values for the generation to come.
The election is in November 2018, so we have plenty of time to get to know each other. If you live or work in District 6, please get in touch. I'm here to hear your concerns and issues and represent them to the entire city so we can make our neighborhoods work better for us.
I'm excited that the SF Examiner was the first news outlet to cover my candidacy. Here's what I told them:
I care deeply about addressing homelessness, strengthening tenant protections, and rebuilding the South of Market infrastructure to recognize that SOMA is not only a neighborhood of manufacturing and highways but also San Francisco’s biggest residential neighborhood.
I’m having my first child in the Fall, I’m planning to raise my family here, and I am personally invested in a future San Francisco that is compassionate and forward looking.
Please join with me and let's move our neighborhoods forwards.