By Ashley Goldsmith
Up first on the Nov. 3 ballot is a proposition aimed at addressing increasing rental prices caused by the ubiquitous gentrification in San Francisco. Proposition A, also known as the Affordable Housing Bond, allows the city to borrow $310 million dollars in the form of general obligation bonds. The proposition will help the city reach its goal of building 30,000 new housing units by 2020. The funds will be allocated for many uses including, but not limited to, development, preservation and purchasing of affordable housing.
“Prop A builds critically needed homes for low- and middle-income San Franciscans without raising taxes,” said Mayor Lee in an advertisement supporting Proposition A.
According to Zillow.com, the current median rental price in San Francisco as of September 2015 is $4,895. Affordable housing is determined by a pricing bracket that is based on a percentage of the area’s median income. Typically tenants of affordable housing, also known as below market rate units, pay no more than 30 percent of their income.
The Libertarian Party of San Francisco is one of the only groups to oppose the measure. Marcy Berry, vice chair of the Libertarian Party said that voters need to think about this bond proposal before voting yes because it is the popular opinion.
“Three hundred million dollars is just a drop in the bucket, because it can cost up to $800,000 to build one unit,” Berry said. “Bonds are a debt and once you incur a debt, it must be paid. The city is rolling in money now, but what happens if there is downturn? Most importantly, who says that we need affordable housing?”
Endorsers of the proposition include Supervisor David Campos, Senator Dianne Feinstein and the San Francisco Chronicle.
“San Francisco voters should not be under the illusion that they are making more than a very modest incremental dent in the city’s affordable-housing crisis when they vote for Proposition A,” read an endorsement piece released by the Chronicle on September 19.
The qualifications necessary to apply for affordable housing units in San Francisco require that the applicant’s household income must be less than 60 percent of the median income in the area. This varies depending on family size. It may be easy for many residents in San Francisco to qualify, but actually being approved for and moving into a unit is extremely difficult.
One of the most qualified groups for affordable housing, are families living in single room occupancy units, or SROs, considered by many housing rights groups to be the “housing of last resort.”
According to an SRO family census conducted in late 2014 by the SRO Families United Collaborative, 60 percent of families living in SRO units have been on an affordable housing wait list for three years or more.
“The city needs this affordable housing bond to build more affordable housing and hopefully this time, we’ll get it passed, a two-thirds vote is no easy task,” said Norman Fong, executive director of the Chinatown Community Development Center, a non-profit organization that has been fighting for housing and tenant rights since the late 70s. “The housing market is so hot, we need additional resources to counter the gentrification going on in this city. Please get out there to vote.”