Earlier this week, city supervisors in San Francisco considered an emergency 45-day moratorium on the construction of new market-rate housing in the Mission district so that the city could, in theory, pause to ponder what’s happening in its insane housing market.
The Mission has long been home to lower-income residents, many of them minorities, and the organizations and social services that work with them. Lately, though, luxury apartments have been rising in their midst to house the city’s influx of wealthy tech workers. The resulting conflict has a fevered quality that’s particular to San Francisco, but it’s also about the same tensions — which become intertwined and conflated — arising in neighborhoods in Washington and Chicago and Boston going through similar change.
In one light, this fight sounds like it’s primarily about affordability. If we build only high-end housing now in the Mission, or along 14th Street, or in Uptown, the argument goes, then the people who can’t afford those new apartments or the rising rents on homes around them will be priced out. To housing advocates, construction cranes and luxury countertops then become symbols of a city growing too expensive for its own residents.
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