Being a native San Francisco working class student myself, gentrification has been an ongoing condition for life in the city. From elementary and middle school in the Excelsior, high school in the Sunset, working in the Tenderloin and Western Addition, and living with my parents in the Bayview, I have seen all kinds of changes in the city for the past 20 years.
However, even with my own experiences, there are many histories held from those of previous generations living in San Francisco. And there are many individuals and organizations that dedicate themselves to protect and preserve that history.
The Human Rights Commission’s Equity Advisory Committee and The Art Gallery have worked together to exhibit the complex issues on housing in San Francisco. The exhibit is located at SF State’s Ceaser Chavez Student Center, and today is the last day to see the exhibit, which is open until 6pm.
The exhibition presents the definition of gentrification as, “a general term for the arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property value, and changes in the district’s character and culture.”
With ceiling-high portraits of people from San Francisco, their pictures are presented with personal perspectives of what living in San Francisco means today, and the exhaustive housing conditions they continually face. Between evictions, sky-high rent, unfair housing situations, and displacement, San Francisco has been facing a housing crisis, which has drastically affected the low-to-middle-income residents that have been living in the city for decades.
This exhibition gives space for the voices of residents facing displacement, as well as provide them a platform to share their experiences of what they’ve seen happen to others.
During the reception event of the exhibition, Paul Day from the Equity Advisory Committee, said that part of the affordable housing issue is “humanizing the issue.”
See the video made by ASI of the reception, here.
After seeing the exhibit, I left thinking about how gentrification has affected a much larger number of people and families than I previously figured. And seeing the stories of these people in the gallery, I now put the faces and personalities to the problem San Francisco residents are facing.