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Community groups ask the City
to help families stay in San Francisco

Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service

March 2, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Low and moderate-income families gathered on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall Wednesday with suitcases and bags set up as props to symbolize the pressure they face to leave an increasingly unaffordable city, and to call on city officials to help them stay.

Representatives from organizations such as Coleman Advocates for Children & Youth and Community Leadership Academy Emergency Response congregated with low and moderate-income parents to release a report authored by Coleman Advocates that is titled, "Families Struggle To Stay: Why Families Are Leaving San Francisco and What Can Be Done.''

The report indicates that the "vast majority" of families who left San Francisco between 1995 and 2000 were people with low to moderate incomes, and were also people of color.

The report presents a re-analysis of 2000 census data conducted by the Public Research Institute at San Francisco State University. The re-analysis makes distinctions between long-term residents and people who had moved to San Francisco during the previous five years, and in this way presents a more detailed picture about which families are leaving the city, according to the study's authors.

"The fate of low and moderate income families is of special concern, because they are the least likely to leave by choice, most likely to be evicted, displaced, or priced out, and most likely to continue struggling wherever they are forced to settle," the report states.

While the policy recommendations put forth in the report touch on issues such as ensuring quality public education, creating good jobs for youth, and reducing violence in the city, the "affordable housing crisis is the number one reason" that low and moderate-income families are forced to leave San Francisco, according to NTanya Lee, the executive director of Coleman Advocates.

NTanya Lee, Executive Director of Coleman Advocates

"We are here with our bags packed...to dramatize the urgency of this issue," Lee said at Wednesday's news conference.

Lee cautioned that San Francisco was losing families with children due to gentrification and the prioritization of high-profit real estate over affordable housing.

"San Francisco is fast becoming a city for the very rich or the very poor," said Evelyn Mack, a parent leader with Coleman Advocates and a native San Franciscan, at the event.

The study includes policy recommendations and a proposed $10 million budget that its supporters say would help low and moderate-income residents continue living in San Francisco.

Coleman Advocates suggests that the mayor make affordable housing for families the city's top housing priority after ending chronic homelessness, and allocate $2 million for rental assistance and eviction prevention.

Lee called on San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and the Board of Supervisors to support the proposed budget and the policy platform. A coalition of community groups, including Coleman Advocates, will hold a rally at City Hall on April 8 to ask the Mayor to show his support for the budget and policy recommendations.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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