Gentrification and displacement are happening in metropolitan areas across the country: Families are being forced out of their homes, the cost of living is exponentially increasing, and, in the heart of San Francisco, the lives of LGBTQ community members are changing.
What is happening in San Francisco?
Poverty and homelessness have become prominent issues in San Francisco in the past few years, especially with the changing economy and community lifestyle. The city’s circumstances are pushing away native San Franciscans and allowing in new technology giants such as Twitter and Google.
Community organizer Roberto Hernandez told the San Francisco Examiner that evictions happen all the time in the Mission District. Citizens who can’t afford to live in these rich areas are forced to live farther away.
“It is criminal in a city that’s so wealthy to have 3,000 children living homeless,” Hernandez told the Examiner.
The Ellis Act evictions started taking place at the height of the dot-com era in the 1990s. Under the law, landlords were legally allowed to evict all tenants in a building, if they wanted to get out of business.
What was once a cultural melting pot is now becoming a culture drain. With technology booms in the city, more and more young professionals are moving into established neighborhoods like the Mission and Castro.
How does gentrification affect the LGBT community?
The San Francisco Human Services Agency reported in 2013 that 29 percent of the city’s 6,436 homeless residents identify as LGBTQ. Many people come to San Francisco to escape prejudice, disapproval, and identity struggles, but as people continue trickling in, the city housing crisis continues to grow.
Co-founder and Director of the Aids Housing Alliance Brian Basinger told thinkprogress.com it is very tough leaving the Castro as a gay man.
“When LGBTQ people get displaced from San Francisco, we lose access to welcoming neighborhoods where we are safe to be ourselves,” Basinger told thinkprogress.com.
According to the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, the residents of 294 buildings in the Castro consisting of 837 units were evicted, and thousands of people were displaced from 2010 through 2013.
What is being done?
Gentrification is inevitable because communities are going to grow in size and economically, and they will move. In San Francisco, communities are constantly changing as groups of people move to different neighborhoods. For example, the Castro used to be a working-class Irish neighborhood in the 1980s. Over time, it transitioned into a mecca for people who identify as LGBTQ.
But many organizations within and outside of San Francisco are working to identify and reduce unfair and forced evictions across the city.
For example, the San Francisco-based Anti-Eviction Mapping Project works to find trends and statistics in evictions. They map out how the evictions were caused, why they were caused, and what communities are potentially in danger next using data from the San Francisco Rent Board and many other sources.
Gentrification and displacement work as a vicious cycle. Neighborhoods are being torn down, along with memories etched onto those walls. While Tony Bennett once sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” many now can sing, “I Left My Home in San Francisco.”