After a devastating fire last week wiped out a city block, displaced 58 tenants, and destroyed several businesses, we asked our candidates for District Nine supervisor what they would do to help residential tenants find new housing in the aftermath of disasters.
What specific programs or policies would you support to help find long-term housing for those affected by natural disasters, like the fire at 29th and Mission?
Respuestas en español aquí.
Hillary Ronen, Chief of Staff for Supervisor David Campos
I am thrilled to report that just this week, I helped fight for and won a $300,000 fund to help fire victims rebuild their lives after being displaced from their homes. These funds can help subsidize rents for units provided under the Good Samaritan Program.
When fire victims are displaced from their homes, their tragedy highlights what all San Franciscans face when displaced from rent controlled units – they can’t afford a market rate unit anywhere in the City. The only way to fix this crisis is to build thousands of below market rate units. That will be my number one goal as Supervisor.
I would also support legislation to give fire victims preference in the lottery for obtaining below market rate units, similar to the preference that currently exists for tenants displaced by an Ellis Act eviction.
Melissa San Miguel, education advocate
I feel deeply for all the people and families who have lost their home due to the fire. There have been far too many fires in the Mission over the last few years and a lack of leadership to prevent and prepare for the next one. First, our city needs to develop an actual plan to develop an emergency response for the families affected by these disasters, including a short and long-term housing plan. Considering how difficult it is for anyone to find housing in San Francisco, the city can consider set-aside housing for those affected by these type of disasters. Our city should be proactive, not reactive as it has been, which ultimately leaves all those affected in limbo and potentially facing homelessness.
Joshua Arce, civil rights attorney and Community Liaison for Laborers Local 261
As the continuing wave of tragic fires has ravaged buildings we’ve seen inaction from City Hall. We need to re-build and do this as fast as possible to bring order to the people that have been affected by this tragedy.
We need to provide rent subsidies to tenants and affected families,incentives to property owners to participate in the Good Samaritan Program, and involve the business community to support the displaced fire victims.
Additionally we can stop these fires becoming so destructive by passing an ordinance requiring sprinkler systems in the Mission’s most vulnerable buildings because we know for a fact that sprinklers saved the Graywood SRO from permanent destruction.
A sprinkler ordinance must be passed as a priority. Action is required now, we can’t afford to wait.
Iswari España, Training Officer with the San Francisco Human Services Agency
Most of our local fires are caused by the negligence of the City to conduct inspection, unscrupulous building owners or a natural disaster; as supervisor, I will advocate the creation of an emergency funding stream to subsidize additional rent moneys for victims of all catastrophes. The funds should come from fines imposed on property owners who fail to maintain buildings and place citizens at risk; these fines should be based on 20% of their property tax. The surplus to create this “Catastrophe Relief Fund” should come from fines, and additional money from the General Fund. Furthermore, I will reform enforcement of property safety codes. In addition, I would facilitate access to City sponsored/affordable rental insurance.
43 Questions is a weekly series — started 43 weeks before Election Day — to question the candidates running for District 9 supervisor. Send us questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know in comments or in an email if you think candidates have answered as asked.