August 31, 2015 Housing Action Coalition

From Russia with Love (and Housing)

housingAnastasia arrived in San Francisco from Russia at the age of six. Her family settled in the large Russian Orthodox community in the Richmond, but didn’t stay for long. Bouncing from Detroit, back to San Francisco, eventually, her family settled in Napa for her teen years. After college on the east coast,  Anastasia has returned to the city she loves. We caught up with Anastasia to ask her a few questions about her experience coming back to San Francisco.

What drew you back to San Francisco after all these years away?

I remember loving this city because of the way that I could get anywhere by bus or train and could be free and independent and didn’t have to rely on my parents to drive me. I am a city girl through and through and I always felt like I would return to SF at some point.

I now work for a tech company in the South Bay, but choose to live in San Francisco because I don’t want to own a car and I just can’t live in the suburbs. I live with five roommates in a house in the Inner Sunset. We are all fairly young and have different backgrounds (tech, finance, medical) and we all pay enormous rent for the humble space we have. I don’t know many “techies” in SF who actually have fancy apartments, even though that may be the general perception of “techies”.

People say the city has changed, but I am always shocked how little the Richmond has changed in the last 20 years. It pretty much looks the same as I remember it in the 1990s.

Do you see yourself living in San Francisco for a long time?

I don’t know. I would like to have a family in the next five years or so, and the cost of living here, housing in particular, is concerning. I am not looking for a big expensive house with a backyard, I only want a two bedroom apartment. I would prefer to live smaller and more efficiently.

Why do you think the housing crisis is something that needs to be addressed?

Hostility towards new arrivals isn’t going to solve the housing problem. I get the feeling that a lot of long-term residents simply want to put up the drawbridge now that they’ve secured their rent-controlled apartment without consideration for others. Expecting the city to be a time capsule is not realistic. We need housing for current and future residents and at all income levels, so let’s build for all of us. We should be building taller around transit, and add more affordable and middle income units. Now is the time to make it easier for developers to build more so we can take pressure off of existing stock.

I think the crisis might get worse before it gets better, but I am confident that we can solve it. We just need to stop thinking about San Francisco as a unique city and learn from places like Seattle, DC, Barcelona, Tokyo and others that have faced similar challenges. This is why I became a member of the SFHAC and SFBARF. These organizations give me hope that there is an actual solution to the issue. I used to think the situation was hopeless and grim but I am optimistic now.

Thanks Anastasia for being a Friend of the SFHAC Member!

The SFHAC wants you to VOTE YES on Prop A on November 3rd. The Affordable Housing Bond will provide $310 million in funding our city needs to construct, acquire, improve, rehab and preserve housing that address the needs of very-low, low and middle-income residents. This housing bond aims at preventing evictions, establishing a middle-income rental program, building new affordable housing and providing downpayment assistance to educators and middle-income earners so people like Anastasia can permanently call San Francisco home.

Housing Action Coalition

The Housing Action Coalition is a member-supported non-profit that advocates for the creation of well designed, well-located housing at all levels of affordability. We believe more housing means more choices and better solutions.

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