Actions Speak Louder than T-shirts, Signs

As I hope we all know by now, the Bay Area has been faced with a serious housing shortage, one that the United Nations calls “a humanitarian crisis.”. Our population is increasing and will continue to increase. The hard reality is that this increase in population is going to continue pushing out our friends and neighbors.

In California “40 percent of residents are considered cost burdened for housing—paying more than 30 percent of their income toward shelter (Bloomberg, “How California Became America’s Housing Market Nightmare).” I suspect many of you similarly feel this pinch. Even with a well-paying tech job, the financial burden of surviving in the Bay Area looms over every decision I make.

While California is being hit hard, Bay Area is uniquely challenged. Here in the Bay Area we “saw 5.4 new jobs for every unit of housing it built between 2011 and 2017” (Bloomberg, “How California Became America’s Housing Market Nightmare”). This lack of housing has and will continue to push our younger people out of the area, along with our Black and Latino friends and neighbors.

Passing Measure Z will not single-handedly solve our housing crisis in the Bay Area. But it will remove an exclusionary and racist barrier that is a blemish on our city. We have a chance to begin to be part of the solution. If you want your children or grandchildren to be able to live near you, this measure needs to be passed.

The nonprofit SPUR writes that: “In 2015, African Americans represented 40 percent of the U.S. homeless population, despite representing only 13.3 percent of the general population.” One of the root causes of the explosion of homelessness in the Bay Area is that the highest rung for housing security is unreasonably high and will only get higher unless we turn these trends around.

So, with a disproportionate number of Blacks being pushed into homelessness due to high cost of living and a housing shortage, every one of us gets to decide if our Black Lives Matter shirts and signs are merely performative.

Do Black Lives Matter to you? If the answer is yes, removing exclusionary housing policies that push out lower income brackets should be a no-brainer. It is an obvious and necessary step. If your heart aches when you see human beings sleeping on tents on the street, please vote “yes” on Measure Z.

— Laura Gamble lives in Alameda