In Spring 2015, a 12th grade economics class at John O’Connell High School in San Francisco identified unaffordable rent prices as an issue for families in the Mission district. After much research, the students determined that the root cause of this issue was a lack of affordable housing units provided by the city, and they set a goal to convince the Board of Supervisors to support specific policies that would increase the affordable housing supply.
The class identified District Supervisor David Campos, who wrote emails and visited class in person, as a key decision-maker to influence, along with Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing Development Corporation, a local nonprofit housing organization, who also visited the class in-person. After Civics Day, where the class was awarded GC’s Grassroots Change Award, a student from the class, Aeris, was invited to testify at San Francisco's Democratic County Central Committee meeting, where key leaders were preparing to take a position vote David Campos’ housing moratorium before it went before the Board of Supervisors for a vote. Aeris’ remarks are below:
“My name is Aeris, and I am a Senior at John O'Connell High School in the Mission. I've lived in the Tenderloin for most of my life. My mother first came here in 1995, when a studio apartment was $500. My mother is a city employee, and makes about $50,000 a year, roughly $3,000 a month. Because of rent control, we can afford living in a studio apartment with 4 people. My mother alone supports me, my younger sister, and my great grandmother.
This wouldn't be possible if we were paying today's studio apartment cost: $1,500-$3,000. My grandfather started a hair-cutting business in San Francisco years before I was born. Our family barbershop is at stake of no longer being labeled "our family barbershop" because the building is being sold. This will put all of the men in my family out of a job.
I am scared. I feel at any time, our rent could be raised and my family and I will live on the streets. I feel at any time, all of the men in my family could become unemployed and they too, will live on the streets.”