San Francisco is facing an untenable crisis of affordability: rents are through the roof, evictions are exploding, and good jobs for working class communities of color are increasingly too hard to find.
But a movement is growing to make San Francisco truly affordable for all — and in 2014, SF Rising will help take that movement to the next level.
Last year, SF Rising demonstrated the potential of our alliance to win concrete victories for our communities.
We showed how strategic campaigns that leverage the strength of our nine base-building member organizations, coupled with high volume grassroots voter-contact operations that educate thousands of voters, can have a critical impact in making healthcare for all a reality and keeping our immigrant families together in the face of the federal government’s bloated deportation regime.
This year, we’re bringing those strategies to bear most intensely on housing and jobs.
Housing: Tenants are Rising!
a) Tenant Rights
For months now, the new San Francisco Anti-Displacement Coalition (SFADC) has been organizing tenants from around the city to develop concrete solutions to stop the rash of evictions sweeping our city.
On, Saturday, February 8, SF Rising encourages you to join with hundreds of other renters of all stripes at the Citywide Tenant Convention at the Tenderloin Elementary School from 1-4pm. Here, our resurgent tenant movement will prioritize policies that keep our communities in our homes and protect rent controlled housing — and which we’ll pursue in City Hall or on the ballot in the year to come!
As Maria Poblet, Executive Director of SF Rising’s core leadership organization Causa Justa :: Just Cause, says in this recent piece “Gentrification and the Battle for the Heart of San Francisco“:
“If local government isn’t representing us well, then we can make ourselves heard – at the ballot box, in the streets, at corporate headquarters and bus stops, in church halls and city hall.”
b) Corporate Accountability
We know well that San Francisco’s crisis of affordability is the result of many, complex factors.
We also know that the red-hot tech industry has pushed through tens of millions of dollars of municipal tax breaks to further line its own pockets, that publicly-subsidized perks like the comically under-regulated Google Buses are contributing to the influx of relatively well-paid tech workers who can afford to compete in a rental market that shuts our communities out.
As the founder and CEO of one of the city’s most prominent tech companies recently said when asked what can be done to drive “real change” in response to San Francisco’s crisis of affordability: “I’m a fan of civil disobedience.”
We couldn’t agree more! On Monday night, February 10, from 7-8pm at Davies Symphony Hall (corner of Grove St. and Van Ness Ave.) – while the tech industry will be preparing for their annual Oscar-style celebration known as the Crunchies Awards – come join labor and community groups in to call on tech companies to stop seeking tax breaks and ignoring their impact on working class San Franciscans, and instead meaningfully engage in the public life of our city!
2) Jobs: A Fair Economy for All!
This month marks the 10-year anniversary of San Francisco’s groundbreaking minimum wage law.
Our city has led the nation with important labor policies, including the first paid sick leave law, the health care security ordinance, and our minimum wage law. As Gordon Mar, Director of Jobs With Justice, notes: “San Francisco’s labor standards have served as model policies that the rest of the country is now finally catching up to.”
Indeed, in the last few months, voters in suburban Seattle have mandated a $15/hour minimum wage at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, Washington D.C.’s City Council has backed an $11.50/hour minimum wage, and in his State of the Union address this year, President Obama spoke of raising the federal minimum wage and encouraged states and local municipalities to do the same.
The bottom line is that in San Francisco, our current $10.74 minimum wage is not enough! Not with median rents at $3,256/month, not with the current crisis of affordability reaching new extremes. SF Rising is hopeful about Mayor Lee’s recent announcement that a $15/hour wage is “worth exploring.”
We know, however, that an increase in real wages, benefits and working conditions will only come with organized pressure on City Hall. That’s why we’re joining forces with other community and labor groups to launch the Campaign for a Fair Economy, calling for new policies to raise wages, enforce labor standards and create a San Francisco for all!