A new report from San Francisco-based community advocacy group Causa Justa::Just Cause released today details just how deeply gentrification is reshaping San Francisco and Oakland. In a sweeping report detailing the economic, social and even public health impacts of gentrification, Causa Justa::Just Cause hits back at the narrative of the seeming inevitability about gentrification. Rather, the authors of “Development Without Displacement” argue, gentrification is the outgrowth of public disinvestment in marginalized communities and years of unjust economic development policies.
In 2011 median rental prices in Oakland neighborhoods in late stages of gentrification surpassed rental housing prices in even Oakland’s historically affluent neighborhoods like the Oakland Hills. Between 1990 and 2011, median rental housing prices in San Francisco neighborhoods in the late stages of gentrification increased 40 percent. What’s more, the rental price increases and housing crisis have fueled the displacement of blacks and Latinos from both cities.
Between 1990 and 2011 the proportion of black residents in all Oakland neighborhoods fell by nearly 40 percent. Perhaps more stunning, black homeowners were about half of north Oakland’s homeowners in 1990. By 2011 they were just 25 percent of the neighborhood’s homeowners. In San Francisco’s Mission district, the historically Latino neighborhood has lost over 1,000 Latino families and seen an influx of 2,900 white households, the report authors write.
“The Mission right now is in chaos with evictions,” Causa Justa member Cecilia Alvarado says in the report. “There is also nowhere to go. The units available are for people who earn $6,000 to $7,000 more than I do per month—not for middle-class or working-class families, which had always been the status of the Mission—families with kids.” Indeed, to longtime residents of the historically Latino neighborhood in San Francisco, the Mission is a new and strange place these days.
The report also includes policy recommendations to slow and reverse gentrification, ranging from housing protections to equitable economic development in all communities. The underlying message is that displacement is a choice, not an inevitability.