South San Francisco, CA June 23, 2023 by Cynthia Marcopulos, SSF Community Leader
Is there really a homeless crisis in San Francisco, or is it a mental illness/drug addiction crisis? What happens to those who have mental illness or are drug-addicted? It’s a two-edged sword. People need help, meaning reversing Gov. Reagan’s closure of mental health hospitals.
San Francisco has over 40,000 vacant homes with 30% of downtown office and retail vacancies. There are 10,000 homeless and 30-40 percent suffer from mental illness and/or substance abuse (USF study). These vacant and unleased buildings should be rezoned into housing to be converted into affordable housing and shelters for San Francisco’s homeless. This will revitalize the Downtown area which has the best public transportation system in the area. But, no, it’s prime real estate and the greed is out of balance with the need.
It’s very basic. The problem is not that we do not have buildings for housing, the problem is people cannot afford to pay the exorbitant rents. You cannot fix the homeless problem if the developer is allowed to build only 15 percent affordable housing.
What about those who have lost their homes because the landlords want top dollar for rent? The Bay Area had a surge of high-priced and over-priced rentals because the biotech, technology and other corporations invaded our area thus driving up property values – and monthly rentals. Some corporations are moving out of the Bay Area, yet our Regional Housing numbers have not been adjusted to realize this change.
The veterans and the seniors are overlooked in this scenario. Cities form a “focus” group to satisfy their obligation, but these two categories of citizens are left behind, barely a thought in the process of the affordable housing equation. According to the San Francisco Department of Homeless and Supportive Housing’s 2019 report, there were 642 homeless veterans. In the same report, there were 804 homeless seniors over the age of 60 years.
Northern Peninsula cities will bear the burden of San Francisco’s crisis. South San Francisco Councilman James Coleman, despite developmental glut in his city, wants to open the floodgates to help San Francisco and the Bay Area by being the affordable housing model. The homeless problem is up to the individual cities, not to shift the problem to another city. One can foresee that South San Francisco will bear the same crisis San Francisco has.
Housing advocates who use the mantra “affordable housing”, “transit corridors”, etc. undoubtedly will demand housing, but where are they while Gov. Newsom attached a trailer bill that will destroy CEQA allowing any development to be built without regard to our safety, and the safety of the planet… ride your bikes, take unsustainable public transportation, and build it! To heck with the environmental laws as long as we get the housing.
Gov. Newsom and Sen. Weiner have turned our state into a cash cow for their big donors – the real estate and construction industries.