Housing round-up: LGBT tenants, a singing protest, and a very sad mural

Pub date March 11, 2014
WriterRebecca Bowe
SectionPolitics Blog

At today’s (Tue/11) Board of Supervisors meeting, Sup. David Campos is introducing legislation to encourage large-scale developers to protect the housing rights of the LGBT community.

Same-sex couples nationwide are more likely to experience discrimination in their search for senior housing, a study by the Washington, D.C. based Equal Rights Center found.

To investigate, testers posed as gay or straight couples with otherwise nearly identical credentials, then submitted inquiries on senior housing in 10 different states. They discovered that in 96 out of 200 tests, those posing as lesbian, gay or bisexual residents experienced at least one type of adverse, differential treatment.

Meanwhile, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in five transgender U.S. residents has been refused a home or apartment, and more than one in ten has been evicted, because of their gender identity.

Federal law does not expressly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. California law does, as do laws in 19 other states. Given these gaps in legal protection, real-estate providers can adopt their own policies to prohibit LGBT discrimination.

Campos’ proposal would require large-scale developers who wish to build in San Francisco to prove their commitment to equal housing opportunities.

“We want to know whether a developer hoping to build in San Francisco is protecting LGBT housing rights when they own or manage housing in states where legal protections don’t exist,” Campos explained. “By collecting this information, we can highlight best practices and urge those who do not have these policies to do the right thing.”

Under the legislation, developers would indicate whether they have national policies prohibiting LGBT discrimination. The Human Rights Commission would compile those policies and present it annually to the Board of Supervisors.

Elsewhere on the housing front, POOR Magazine founder Lisa Gray-Garcia (aka “Tiny”) led a group of anti-eviction activists into City Hall this morning, where they broke into song to call attention to the eviction of a family from a public-housing unit in the Fillmore neighborhood. They linked the eviction with a broader trend of African American out-migration from San Francisco, and sang spirituals.

Gray-Garcia reported that the group, which she estimates at roughly 30 people, encountered resistance from the Sheriff’s deputies who provide security in City Hall. “They said we were an unlawful assembly because we were singing,” she said. So the protesters proceeded upstairs, whispering, to stand outside Mayor Ed Lee’s office. Then they broke into song again, she said.

“We’re talking about a family about to be evicted tomorrow, that’s how serious this is,” Gray-Garcia told us. She said she’d spoken to someone from the mayor’s office, Carl Nicita, who “to his credit, he listened to us and he said ‘I’m going to tell the mayor.’” (We’re working on finding out more about the eviction and how the city will respond.) 

As a final housing-related tidbit, head over to the Mission to check out the new Clarion Alley “Wall of Shame” mural, featuring a list of what the artists perceive to be the root forces of gentrification (Both Google buses and corporate giveaways to tech companies made the list).

Inscribed on some tombstones near the bottom: “So long San Francisco, As We Knew It. (Historic Counter-Culture & All.)”

On the flip side, the artists also included a list of solutions.

Bryan Augustus contributed to this report.