For those living in San Francisco, stories of friends and family being displaced from their homes have become far more common than stories about finding affordable housing. It feels like poor, working, and middle class people are being priced out of the city. For months rental prices in San Francisco have been the highest in the nation, outpacing even New York City, and they just seem to keep going up. According to Zillow, the average rent for a one bedroom apartment increased by 13.6 percent in 2014, and in some neighborhoods, such as the Mission, average rents went up by over 20 percent. Meanwhile those who are lucky enough to already live in an affordable apartment increasingly face the pressure of eviction and the fear of having to search for a new home in the city’s competitive rental market.
For San Francisco’s LGBT communities this situation represents a real crisis. The city’s most recent count found that 29 percent of the city’s homeless population identify as LGBT, and 9.2 percent said they were homeless because of an eviction. Neighborhoods that have historically had large LGBT communities, such as the Castro, Bernal Heights, and the Mission, have been particularly affected by evictions and rising rents in the past few years. Furthermore, LGBT people, particularly elderly LGBT people, those living with HIV, and transgender people, can face additional barriers to finding and staying in housing due to discrimination and other factors. For many, the inability to find affordable housing in San Francisco means leaving the communities they have called home for decades.
With these conditions it is easy to see why searching for an affordable rental in San Francisco can feel almost hopeless. The waitlist for public housing is tremendously long for a limited number of units and has only briefly been opened for new applicants in recent years. The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development programs for below market housing can involve navigating a complicated application process just to be entered into a lottery for a limited number of units. Searching for a market rate apartment means facing intense competition for an increasingly scarce number of more affordable units. All of this makes it particularly important for those searching for housing in San Francisco to have a good understanding of the resources available to renters.
With this in mind the LGBT Center’s monthly affordable rental workshop aims to provide some of this knowledge to the LGBT community and its allies. The workshop explores how to apply for below market rate housing, options for low income individuals to find housing through non-profit housing developers, affordable housing options for seniors, how to improve your rental application, and basic tenants’ rights information. Additionally, attending a workshop is a great first step toward getting involved with the Center’s other programs such as one-on-one help applying for below market rate housing and lending circles to help improve credit. The workshop will be held the first Tuesday of every month from 6:30-8:30pm here at the Center. To sign up please visit this link www.lgbtrentalworkshop.eventbrite.com.