Blacks are Disappearing from Space-Starved San Francisco

Bayview-Hunter's Point (Daniel Ramirez / Flickr / CC)
Daniel Ramirez / Flickr / CC

San Francisco’s gentrification is slowly creeping into the Bay Area’s traditionally black neighborhoods, forcing out locals and slowly replacing them with Silicon Valley techies and professionals who are better able to afford higher prices.

“I love this place. This is really home,” Dwight Brown, a jobs activist who resides in the historically black Bayview-Hunters Point told the Associated Press. “But the writing on the wall was they’re taking it away from us. You’re not going to be able to live in San Francisco, unless you stand and fight for it.”

The AP points out that writer James Baldwin had once referred to the neighborhood as “the San Francisco America pretends does not exist.”

The average price of a home in San Francisco is $1.2 million. Homes in cheaper areas are being snatched up by those who are able to afford them–and soon they appreciate in value.

This October, a rotting earthquake shack in San Francisco sold for $408,000. In nearby Palo Alto, a tiny 180-square-foot shack was listed one month later for sale at $1.98 million.

The AP describes Bayview-Hunters Point as one of the last major frontiers for San Francisco development, with spectacular views of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and downtown. However, a housing shortage is slowly catching up to the rest of the Bay Area and the neighborhood is losing a part of its black identity.

San Francisco has long prided itself on having an image as a bastion of diversity and progressive politics. However, a burgeoning tech population is quickly eroding that dynamic. A study released earlier this year by the San Francisco Foundation found that the city’s policies are rapidly ejecting blacks and Latinos to become a “lily white” island over the course of the next 25 years.

A study by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project suggests that San Francisco’s black population currently stands at 6%, compared to 13% in 1970. This is taking place as the city’s general population continues to rise. Breitbart’s Joel B. Pollak points out that this “steep decline began in the 1990s–right at the time the dot-com boom boosted the city’s financial fortunes, and as ultra-liberal policies returned to vogue in urban America.” Pollak also noted that “Economist Thomas Sowell blames environmentalists for promoting restrictions on housing construction that have made rental stock more scarce and more expensive, pushing many black families to leave the Bay Area over time.”

And the trend has not gone unnoticed. This summer over $77,000 was raised on Kickstarter to fund a film aptly named The Last Black Man in San Francisco. The film tells the story of two San Francisco natives who form a close friendship as they grapple with race, class and displacement while San Francisco’s politicians use sales tax revenues from poor neighborhoods to offer fabulous tax incentives to high-tech companies that push out the Mission District’s dwindling Latino population and the Fillmore District’s traditionally black residents.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.


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