Gentrification at our doorstep

Mission High School has a prime real estate location. It sits at the intersection of Dolores Park and the vibrant neighborhoods of the Mission, Castro, and Hayes Valley. The recent tech boom over the past five years has attracted many people and their money to the neighborhood, pushing the low-income families of Mission High School students into a difficult financial situation. Some students now have a longer commute and in some cases, they are not able to attend Mission High School anymore.

There are 950 students at Mission High School. Seventy-four percent are economically disadvantaged and receive free or reduced lunch, according to U.S. News and World Report. The low-income families of Mission High School are unable to afford the rent that tech workers can pay.

From 2011 to 2015, rent for one-bedroom apartments in the Mission increased from an average of $1,900 to $3,610. This is a 90% increase in just five years. The people in the Mission are changing. Haiy Le, twenty-six, moved into the neighborhood in October 2015. After graduating from college, she was working as an Editorial Assistant at Newsela, a tech company located in Palo Alto. She wanted to live in San Francisco because she was “bored by Palo Alto” and attracted to the cultural offerings in San Francisco. Le found housing on 25th St. with a Mexican family in a two-bedroom apartment. She lives with a 56-year-old single mother and her teenage daughter. Le is part of the change in San Francisco. “The mother tells me that change is inevitable, but it is happening too fast.”

Some Mission High School students have noticed the change. Sal Necholy, seventeen, has been living in the Mission for nine years. “I have seen more and more homeless people on the streets,” he said.

In an August 2016 poll, 400 people were surveyed by EMC Research. The poll was paid for by Rise SF, an advocacy group that tries to make policies for more housing and better public transportation. They found 63% of the people polled believed that the tech boom is to blame for the high cost of housing and traffic congestion in San Francisco. Fifty-three percent of the people surveyed thought the city’s failure to build housing and improve transportation were also factors.

Mission High School has attempted to help economically disadvantaged students. One way is providing free lunch for all students. The free lunch is helpful for families who are in a pinch with money. Tech companies have also tried to provide support. Twitter employees came to the high school and talked about their jobs, as well as internships for students. The community has also tried to get involved. 826 Valencia is a nonprofit that connects tutors with students at Mission. These are some of the solutions to assist economically disadvantaged students and those who are affected by gentrification.

However, these are only band-aids and longer-term solutions require more affordable housing in San Francisco. One thing that we can do is organize a city-wide, or even region-wide protest for more affordable housing. The only problem is that it will require a lot of money and preparation time to carry out. A simpler solution that we can do for free is to start a petition for a proposition that will ensure affordable housing in San Francisco. I personally believe that a combination of the two would have the most success.

This entry was posted in Student Writing Gallery.

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