Editors’ note: P and U are two of the more potentially misleading propositions that San Francisco residents will find on the November ballot. And P & U concern one of the most important issues facing residents of this city: affordable housing. P & U have been put forward by the Realtors Association with a promise of “more housing for more people,” but in fact neither proposition will create any new housing at all. Instead, Prop U increases the number of middle-income earners (up to 110% of the area’s median income) who can apply for inclusionary rental units (that is, housing units required by law to be offered at below the market rate). This would do away with the 12% of new housing that is currently set aside for people earning $39,000 a year or less, leaving them with nowhere to live. Prop P, meanwhile, opens up the bidding process on affordable housing projects to potentially substandard developers interested in taking advantage of the rental increases allowed by Prop U, and arguably would result in many affordable housing projects not going forward. Access to housing is a social justice issue. Anyone interested in securing affordable housing for all San Franciscans, and in seeing San Francisco grow as a diverse and inclusive city, should pay close attention to the details of P & U.
On October 5, a coalition of local faith leaders, nonprofits and residents held a rally outside the offices of the San Francisco Realtors Association, not far from City Hall. Below, we print a letter written by these faith leaders that was recently submitted to the San Francisco Chronicle.
As clergy deeply concerned about the housing crisis we were heartened by the Chronicle’s editorial opposing Propositions P and U.
Were this a fair debate we are confident voters would also reject these divisive and damaging measures. But the realtor lobby is spending over a million dollars in a campaign that misleads and deceives.
Slick mailers claim Prop U will expand opportunities for the “middle class” without disclosing U creates no new housing and will instead take away units from those less fortunate. They claim Prop P will lower costs yet fail to disclose P will create more obstacles for building housing for the homeless.
Voters must know that P & U are poorly designed, morally fraught and socially harmful. All our communities deserve better.
Rev. Angela Brown JD, Associate Pastor, Glide Memorial United Methodist Church
John Buehrens, Senior Minister, First Unitarian Universalist Society
Rev. Norman Fong, Parish Associate, Presbyterian Church in Chinatown
Rev. Ayanna Moore, Plymouth UCC, Oakland and St. James Episcopal
The Church of the Sojourner
Rev. Joanna Shenk, Associate Pastor, First Mennonite Church of SF
Father Richard Smith, Ph.D., Vicar, St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, SF
(Church affiliations for identification only)