SF Supervisor Jane Kim explains why the city needs to integrate its policies surrounding two key issues: housing and transportation

Jane Kim housing transportation

A few years ago, I was introduced to a young woman who slept in Golden Gate Park with her partner. They were finally connected to services and were working hard to get stable, secure employment and find housing. But even after they secured employment, they couldn’t find anything they could afford.

Although at times hopeless and overwhelmed by pushbacks and obstacles, with support – including the support of our office – they eventually won a below-market rate unit in a new apartment development across the street from the new Twitter Headquarters. 

The day they walked into their new apartment, her partner knelt down on the floor and started sobbing. He couldn’t believe they had a place that they could call home.

The housing struggle in San Francisco is all too common, but these happy endings are unfortunately rare.

As a San Francisco Supervisor, I have stood up to powerful interests to make sure our working families get a fair shake. We know that the first big step in making our city work for all of us is addressing the housing affordability crisis.

Housing is much more than a place to live – housing provides stability, health and security.

Every time a resident that we have helped wins an affordable housing unit in the City they love, is one of the best days in our office. These moments make our fight worth it.

We’re on the edge of a tipping point in the Bay Area — and in San Francisco especially. People move to great cities because of the opportunities, active networks, arts and vibrant culture cities offer. But as our cities have become more and more crowded, prices have jumped astronomically and everyone is feeling the pinch.

Our cities aren’t building enough affordable and middle-income housing. Longtime small businesses and arts venues are being forced to move out of the neighborhoods they have served as anchors in for decades due to rising rents.

Transit options are limited, and many residents commute for hours because they can’t afford to live in the communities where they work.

In fact, one million of the Bay Area’s 3.5 million workers commute over at least one county boundary every day on their way to work.

All of these problems are interconnected, and it’s impacting our region and city. This is urgent, but we still have time to enact smart policies that can help us address these challenges.

I’m holding a series of forums to bring together thought leaders on important policy topics with the goal of organizing support for real, concrete solutions to these pressing issues. 

The first forum will be on Housing, Transportation and Urban Planning on Tuesday, August 30 at Mission High School.

I’m honored to be joined by former Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa who helped jumpstart mass transit projects while mayor, California State University Trustee Lateefah Simon and best-selling author of Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love and founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Salon David Talbot, who is a leading voice on civic issues.

In order for our cities to become more affordable, we need to integrate our housing and transportation policies based on the principle that our cities must work for everyone — from the tech entrepreneur to the barista, from the small business owner to our blue-collar workers.

Our land-use policies and public dollar investments must support all our residents. We must be clear that we are building for everyone.

We fought and won an unprecedented 40 percent affordable and middle-income housing in several market-rate developments. We’ve pushed luxury developers to pay more for better transit and more parks. We’ve passed the strongest new protections for tenants in the nation. And I’m proud to have authored the strongest minimum wage ordinance in the country in our Fight for $15.

We still have much more work to do. We can grow while protecting the residents who call our cities home today.

We must continue to fight for more affordable housing in every new housing development so teachers, police, firefighters and nurses can live closer to where they work and serve. This alleviates traffic too: If people can live closer to their jobs, they won’t have to get in their cars.

And we must make our streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians: This will activate our streets, make our neighborhoods safer and our residents healthier. These policies ultimately build healthier, safer and stronger cities.

We want more stories like the couple who moved to Mid-Market. Each time we win affordable housing for another household or family, I’m even more motivated to make it happen for our families across California.

I hope you will join David Talbot, Antonio Villaraigosa, Lateefah Simon and me in standing for solutions on August 30 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Mission High School Auditorium.

You can RSVP at janekim.org/housing or email me at [email protected].

Feature image via Facebook