A TV advertisement and mailer by Housing Is A Human Right and AIDS Healthcare Foundation slam California State Sen. Scott Wiener for his trickle-down housing, pro-gentrification bill SB 50. The ad and mailer feature renowned writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin, who, in 1963, noted that “urban renewal” in San Francisco means the “removal” of the black community. SB 50 is continuing that inhumane legacy.
Baldwin said: “San Francisco is engaging… in something called urban renewal, which means moving the Negroes out. It means Negro removal…”
Baldwin was sadly prophetic. In San Francisco, the black population has dropped by more than half since 1960. Gentrification has also devastated San Francisco’s Mission District, a longtime home for the Latino community, where more than 8,000 Latino residents have been forced out in the last decade.
“SB 50 does not truly address our housing affordability crisis,” says Housing Is A Human Right Director René Christian Moya. “At its core, Wiener’s bill is trickle-down, luxury housing legislation that will exacerbate existing gentrification crises in the Bay Area and throughout California, but makes billions for Big Real Estate.”
Between 2010 and 2016, Wiener held office as a San Francisco supervisor. Rated the “most moderate, or right-leaning” politician in San Francisco by the San Francisco Public Press and UC Davis, Wiener had a track record that showed him to be “a tool of the landlords, big realtors, and special interests,” according to the San Francisco Tenants Union.
As state senator, he hasn’t changed, aggressively pushing a statewide pro-gentrification, trickle-down housing agenda that greatly benefits his campaign contributors in the real estate industry, but fuels gentrification and displacement. Wiener, in fact, is engaging in government-sanctioned gentrification.
(Read the Housing Is A Human Right special report, “Selling Out California: Scott Wiener’s Money Ties to Big Real Estate.”)
That’s only been underlined by Wiener’s introduction of SB 50. It allows developers to build luxury housing without adequate affordable housing. The bill also provides only temporary protections for middle- and working-class neighborhoods that are under threat of gentrification and displacement. Once those temporary protections are gone, those communities will become prime targets for developers who want to utilize SB 50.
Housing Is A Human Right (HHR) is the housing advocacy division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest HIV/AIDS organization, which has clinics in the Bay Area. AHF patients, in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and other cities in the U.S., have been negatively impacted by rising housing costs and gentrification, which threaten their health. As a result, AHF, which started as a housing organization for terminally ill AIDS patients, has undertaken housing as a serious public health issue. AHF and HHR have been two of the leading organizations in opposing Wiener’s pro-gentrification bill, SB 50.
AHF and HHR were also key players in the attempt to overturn the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which places statewide restrictions on rent control, through Proposition 10. While the 2018 measure lost statewide, it created a broad, statewide coalition of housing and social justice groups, labor unions, political groups, civic leaders, and tenant rights organizations. Prop 10 also earned a majority of support from voters in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Pasadena, among other cities.
Yet Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, refused to endorse Proposition 10. His recent campaign contributors in the real estate industry also gave $9.9 million to the No on 10 campaign.
To humanely and urgently address California’s housing affordability, HHR and AHF urge Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislators to utilize the “3 Ps”: protect tenants through such policies as rent control and just cause eviction; preserve existing affordable housing, such as rent-controlled units; and produce truly affordable housing. SB 50 does none of these things in a substantive, long-term way.
The TV ad featuring James Baldwin will run in San Francisco (Monday, April 15, to Sunday, April 28) and Sacramento (to be determined). The mailer, which also features Baldwin, will be sent to San Francisco residents in the coming days.