Our Work in San Francisco County
The clergy and lay leaders of Faith in Action Bay Area are always organizing to advance the dignity of San Francisco’s most vulnerable, whether for our seniors who struggle to pay exorbitant rents on a restricted income, or our unhoused brothers and sisters who cannot shelter in place during a pandemic. They always lead with faith and fearlessness, even when pitted against powerful corporate and bureaucratic interests in the city.
In 2019, a “Soul of the City” committee of seniors, high school students, and congregations from across the city began to meet weekly and won housing for low-income seniors and support for increased subsidies. The group began to organize a campaign called “Reclaiming the Soul of San Francisco,” which envisioned a city in which seniors could live in dignity without having to pay more than 30% of their income in rent. These intrepid leaders lead an occupation of Mayor London Breed’s office, where more than a hundred members of Faith in Action Bay Area demanded that San Francisco do right by the seniors who have lived, worked, and raised families in the city for decades. The “Soul of the City” committee is still working to ensure that our seniors can stay peacefully in their homes, without working multiple jobs in their advanced years in order to pay rent, or worrying about being evicted.
When times are challenging and uncertain, you can always count on Faith in Action Bay Area to act as a beacon of light and determination. In the spring of 2020, when San Francisco entered its first lockdown, tens of thousands of people remained homeless on streets, with no place to safely shelter. Our clergy and lay leaders organized a “Shelter for All” campaign, demanding that San Francisco move its unhoused residents into the thousands of vacant hotel rooms. The city finally moved thousands of unhoused people from the streets into hotel rooms, where they could shelter safely during the pandemic!
Faith in Action Bay Area’s voter engagement has taken off in recent years, as our leaders learn to integrate their outreach to voters with their organizing work, in an effort to build enough power to change things in the city. In the summer and fall of 2020, our San Francisco leaders called hundreds of low-income voters in key supervisorial districts, talking to them about their experiences during the pandemic, whether it was losing work and/or wages or owing back rent, connecting them to resources, and inviting them to join the Faith in Action Bay Area network.
Faith in Action Bay Area recently celebrated a sweet victory that resulted from our years-long commitment to a place and its people. In late 2020, our Latina leaders, in partnership with the Plaza 16 coalition, won a historic five-year battle to bring 100% affordable housing to the 16th Street Plaza, in the heart of the Mission District!
Lastly, people often remark on the inter-generational collaboration of amongst our leaders leaders in San Francisco. It’s true, Faith in Action Bay Area members really do come in all ages! In 2018, we formed a San Francisco youth organizing team, comprised of more than thirty students from high schools across the city. The youth organized two deportation defense campaigns that year—one for Hamid, an Afghan teenager fleeing Taliban violence in his home country, and another for Juan Francisco, a Daly City dad who was picked up by ICE. The youth steered all aspects of the campaigns, visiting Hamid and Juan Francisco in detention, putting together press conferences, and lobbying elected officials to intervene on their friends’ behalf. Eventually, both Hamid and Juan Francisco were released from detention. Currently, our youth leaders are fully integrated into all of our organizing work, and we even have youth representatives serving on our Board of Directors!