Undocumented Latino immigrants are currently having a hard time finding places to live in San Francisco because of many barriers. Some of the obstacles when they first arrive to the U.S. are: they don’t know how and where to catch the bus, they don’t speak the language, and most of the time they don’t have any family or friends already established here who can help them out. Having all of these problems makes it impossible to find a place to live because many building owners don’t want to rent to undocumented immigrants, especially when other people can pay more for the apartments and don’t have as many obstacles to rent.
Some of the people undocumented immigrants are competing against have good jobs, a college education, and good credit. But imagine if you didn’t speak the language of the country you were living in, you didn’t have a social security number, you didn’t have tax history, and you couldn’t get a credit check; this would make it very hard to rent a place. According to Jules Older’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Quest for an Affordable Apartment: S.F.’s Heart of Darkness,” she explains how expensive San Francisco has become: “In our search, which began as soon as we unpacked, we looked at a 750-square-foot Pacific Heights apartment for $6,000. Without parking. We saw an ad for a furnished Potrero Hill place for $6,800. Without parking. Heard about SoMa studios going for $3,000. Yeah, no parking.”
I interviewed my cousin’s friend, Pablo, who is having problems finding a place to live. His housing search is going well because he found three rooms, and three separate houses, but there are some problems in one of the rooms—they only accept two adults and one child. Unfortunately, Pablo has two children and would not be able to qualify for that room. The other room was overcrowded, had cockroaches, and was too expensive—they wanted $1,500 for the room. They would also have to share the kitchen and the restroom with other people.
Undocumented immigrants who cannot find housing can become homeless, their children can miss school, they can’t cook food and end up going hungry, and their families can become separated. All of these pressures can lead to a lot of stress, illness, and depression. Unfortunately, in some cases, this can also lead to death.
The best way to solve this problem would be for the president and local government to approve more houses for all people. Landlords should not ask for a lot of requirements because some people may meet these requirements while some of them may not. In San Francisco, there is the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA). They help Latino families find economical housing. They also help with finding housing for the elderly. We must support organizations like MEDA so that all people have access to high-quality housing.