It’s the time of year when we all say the seasonal line: “We have much to be thankful for.”
And it’s true. San Francisco is a city where people by and large want to live and work. It’s a place where people fight to shape The City to match their ambitions, and some fight to make it more affordable for those on the margins. It’s a struggle for many to make ends meet here, and that’s partly, of course, because it’s a victim of its own success.
It’s a city worth fighting for and worth fighting to be a part of. We are lucky to be a part of a city that attracts such devotion and passion.
We have a lot of work to do in expanding the social safety net to protect those among us who are at risk of falling off the edge. Many citizens give their time and money to help fellow San Franciscans in need, and for all of those good souls, we are also grateful. We hope the number of people who make a commitment to care for The City and its people grows, not just during the holidays but year-round.
The City is experiencing a tremendous period of growth and overall prosperity. According to the 2014 Commerce and Industry Inventory report released this week, The City boasted an all-time employment high of 640,000 jobs, a 22 percent increase from 2005. But it’s clear the new wealth is benefiting some more than others.
“One thing that I’d want to wonder is whether or not that data jives with how we’re considering our affordability needs today,” Planning Commissioner Christine Johnson said when the report was presented.
We also wonder and urge the commissioners to follow up on their instincts to compare The City’s new glowing commerce data with housing data, which is not so glowing.
Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, said she has seen how the wave of prosperity has actually put more pressure on The City’s neediest.
“It makes for an interesting moment,” she said. “It means that more people have access to jobs, but the rents are so high that even if people are working more hours, they can’t earn enough to get back into housing. If the political will was there in this city, it could make a dent, but it’s not.”
On Tuesday, Coalition on Homelessness activists unfurled a banner over the interior balcony in City Hall, calling out The City’s slow pace of providing new housing for homeless families. The hand-painted banner read: “Dear Mayor Ed Lee, I am thankful that 120 families will have a home to share a turkey in, but there are still 1,000 more who didn’t. Love, 3,300 homeless S.F. children.”
Sheriff deputies quickly took down the banner, but the point was made. It was another battle for the future of this contested city.
Reflecting on today’s holiday, Friedenbach said, “My Thanksgiving wish is that every man, woman and child would have a safe and decent place to call home.”
We echo that wish this season. And for those fortunate enough to have a place to live in this city, even if they are struggling to hold on, there is much to be thankful for.