Over the past two years, families have been forced to leave their homes in the Mission District after devastating fires. No suspects have been found. What is clear is that the lives of these low-income families have been negatively impacted and they have been forced to move away because they are no longer able to afford living in the Mission. They have been removed by tech workers who are attracted to the cultural offerings of the Mission neighborhood.
According to the San Francisco Examiner, these fires have been affecting low-income families located in the Mission District. One hundred ninety-eight Mission residents have been burned out of their homes in the past nineteen months. Three people, including one child, have died due to these tragedies.
The latest fire was on June 18, 2016. At 2:30 p.m., a fire spread through various apartment buildings and storefronts on Mission St. It took several businesses out of service and families out of their homes. A total of 150 firefighters had to fight early into the morning to put out the flames.
David Campos is a supervisor in district nine. He wrote in an op-ed for the San Francisco Examiner where he stated, “As the elected representative of these neighborhoods, there is nothing I want more than to assure my constituents that arson is not a factor in these fires. Unfortunately, at this point, I cannot say this with certainty.” As the supervisor of district nine, David Campos tries to give hope to his community, but he himself finds these tragedies very suspicious.
After several attempts to get in touch with the fire department for an interview, nobody responded to my request. According to KQED, the fire department is “understaffed.” Their investigation found that as of June 2015, “probes into 157 structure fires remained open, as well as investigations into eighty-five vehicle fires and dozens of trash and portable toilet fires.”
It is difficult to investigate the cause of the fires due to the lack of funding and staff at the fire department. Still, the problems remain that fires have left families without homes and local businesses without their old spaces. According to the news site Mission Local, at least three tenants from a fire at 29th St. and Mission on June 18 became homeless after they declined housing from the city. They did not seem to like the environment of the living space that was offered to them.
I interviewed a Latino student from Mission High School about this issue, and he said that he and his family had to leave their home in the Mission because they could no longer afford rent. “This really bothers me because it didn’t only affect me but the whole community and I know that there are many other kids that are dealing with what I am dealing with. This has to stop because it also affects me as a student.” This student made it clear that being moved out of his home in the Mission made it harder for him to get to school on time and he ends up going home late as well.
Some solutions that can help address this housing crisis involve more affordable housing for all people of San Francisco. More affordable housing must be built in order to put an end to the evictions in the Mission, instead of building more condo building complexes. It is also important that the fire department gets more money to help resolve the investigations of the fires that have been burning down all of these buildings. I grew up in the Mission District on 22nd St., but had to move further away toward Geneva and Mission two years ago because there were other people willing to pay more. It has been challenging for me to have a longer commute time to school and affects my time management by having less rest. I hope no other Mission students have to deal with the same problem and this crisis finally stops.