Business and Faith Leaders Step Up in San Francisco Housing Crisis

stepping-upTwo articles this past week highlight some positive news about leaders in San Francisco’s business and faith communities stepping up to be a meaningful part of a solution to the housing crisis in the city.  Unfortunately they also expose the resistance that continues to face efforts aimed at solving this massive problem.

It was announced that Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff has backed San Francisco’s goal to raise $30 million for helping homeless families – committing to match up to $10 million for the Heading Home campaign – and encouraging others to do the same. As part of an effort to end long-term family homelessness in San Francisco, its goal is to help 800 homeless families with students in the San Francisco Unified School District find permanent housing by 2019.

Forest Hill Christian Church is among a larger community of churches in the City who feel both a moral obligation to help those in need, and also recognize the opportunities their high-value land can offer. It has proposed to build 150 homes for low-income seniors on its site, yet is facing neighborhood resistance. San Francisco Interfaith Council Executive Director Michael Pappas shared, “Communities of faith are sitting on some of the most valuable and underutilized property in the City. Rather than making a villain out of a church that is trying to help the City respond to its housing affordability crisis, we should be supporting and streamlining its effort.”

Groups have organized to help garner public and private support for new housing as a response to the “NIMBY” (not in my back yard) movement – and not just in San Francisco – among them are BARF (San Francisco) and newly formed Housing You Matters in San Diego. While tactics and goals may be different; frustration and a desire for change is the common theme.

The housing crisis across the state is very real, and engaging hearts and minds to find common ground for the common good will be critical to develop solutions that help all communities.