How Young People Are Addressing the Housing Crisis in San Francisco
Victoria Fierce’s story is a familiar one for many young people who have moved to expensive cities like San Francisco in search of job opportunities in tech or other industries. The high cost of housing often forces them to resort to temporary living situations while they search for a place of their own. Fierce’s experience of sleeping on a friend’s couch until she found affordable housing inspired her to take action.
In 2015, Fierce founded East Bay for Everyone, a grassroots organization that advocates for more housing, increased renter protections, better public transit, and improved infrastructure in the Bay Area. Their mission is to say “yes to more neighbors, more housing, and more opportunities for everyone in our communities.”
The Rise of YIMBY Movement
Fierce is part of a growing movement called YIMBY, which stands for “Yes In My Backyard.” This group of activists is pushing for more affordable, accessible, and denser housing options in cities like San Francisco. They believe that by increasing housing supply, they can help address the housing affordability crisis and create more inclusive communities.
Historical Context of NIMBY Politics
The NIMBY (“Not In My Backyard”) politics of the past was fueled by concerns about property values, racial tensions, and environmental preservation. Activists in the past mobilized to protect green spaces, historic resources, and communities from unchecked development and pollution. The term “NIMBY” became a pejorative label hurled at those who opposed growth and development in their neighborhoods.
YIMBYs vs. NIMBYs
While YIMBYs see themselves as the opposite of NIMBYs, there are similarities between the two groups. Both are driven by self-interest and are motivated by the desire to shape their communities according to their values. YIMBYs, like their predecessors, also align with progressive agendas and advocate for policies that promote social equity and environmental sustainability.
Changing Strategies for Citizen Participation
The methods for citizen participation have evolved over time. In the past, neighborhood activists engaged in direct action by attending city council meetings, protesting, and demanding a voice in local policies. Today, YIMBYs continue this tradition of active engagement, drawing inspiration from past social movements and advocating for policies that improve quality of life for all residents.
As the YIMBY movement gains momentum, it is important to recognize the historical context that has shaped housing politics in places like San Francisco. By understanding the motivations of both NIMBYs and YIMBYs, we can work towards creating more inclusive and sustainable communities for everyone.