Wesearch Series- Stories of GentriFUKcation

Bad News Bruce - Posted on 12 March 2013



Poor people led research and pro-active media deconstructing the lies told about criminalized and mythologized communities.


Ingrid De Leon

I am a migrant woman, mother that day by day I look at the sun

to guide me through this World. I have lived in San Francisco

for nine years. I see how things here are changing in the Misión

district. Before, there were a lot of stores and Latin restaurants.

But everything is changing. Everyday, they build new buildings

for businesses and other races that we cannot afford to buy.

When I walk through 24th street, I see new houses, businesses and

cafes with people who have money, everyone has their coffee cup

and everyone with their own laptops. They all appear quiet,

each in their own world. Us, Raza and those that don’t have a lot of

money cannot go in there. We have no money or computer. Little

by little our spaces are shrinking. And when we are surrounded

by rich houses and rich people, we feel like fish out of water

and we want to move out of here. Our space is already full of

things that us, the poor, cannot have. I am in horror, because I

feel that at any moment I will no longer have a home, because my

current home is very old.  These are the houses that are being

destroyed for new condominiums. I get chills every time I see a new

construction site. I feel as if I’m drowning, since I cannot swim.


Usuario for change (Enrique)- Gentrification

When I arrived in this country, into the city of San Francisco, a

decade ago, I saw how the renters and people that lived in shelters

were being forced into eviction from where we lived by the owners

of the buildings. Forced into eviction by the creation of “CHANGES” by the city of

San Francisco.

During a mass protest, I announced that the ones that should be

criminalized are the originators of Gentrification.  In other

words- the owners of the units and the legislators that approved the

ELLIS ACT.  Just like those who approved the program

“CHANGES,” because those are the originators of this problem.

Me, in my part, I was going to fight for a system of subsidized

housing by the city. Fight for the particular persons that have low income or

temporarily no income who could have good worthy housing according to

their earnings.

Today I live at Casa Quezada where I pay 25 dollars a month for

rent and when I do not have money, I do not pay. This program

was developed with the participation of many non-profit

organizations and other neighborhood centers in the Misión.


Gentrification- Julio Chaves

Gentrification of a neighborhood affects my economy because the

rent of apartments and rooms increase in price.  The owners of the

houses or apartments take advantage of the situation, feeling like mini kings in

their kingdom where they live and pressure the people who live in

their units.  The rent every day is more expensive.  It pushes us to live in places

far from our work centers, making life more difficult. Like

my grandmother says “what doesn’t leave with tears, leaves

with a sigh.”  This is due to the fact that is you have cheap housing,

you have to deal with many stupid discomforts from the mini King

and Esther with how you spend more money on gasoline or on the bus transportation. Gentrification is a silent Invasion, but without bullets-where the one with the most money takes possession of the best commercial places with the great ability to do


Gentrification increases the rent and also the food.  It is a race where

he takes himself out of the race when he has little money or low

paying jobs. It’s a race where the poor get poorer and the rich get


This economic war grows bigger and bigger each moment like

Monsanto (Monster.) Where the one with money can live where he

wants and the poor where ever we can, or survive if we can.

I like the apartment where I live because it’s cheap, but it is located

on the first floor and I can hear the drainage system from the

neighbors upstairs.  And I can hear them making love with a

rik rik of their mattress. But all these noises and discomforts are

part of my environment.


Gentri- Lex Horan

I'm a young white person who's living in Oakland on a short-term basis. I am passing through, essentially, for four months of my life. Most of the time I live in Minneapolis, MN. Here in this city I am mostly a learner--I came here for training to bring home with me. It feels like a very strange way to be in a place.

Moving here was very easy for me. I am living in an apartment near Lake Merritt with my best friend and another person I hadn't met before moving here. The building I'm staying in was recently renovated and many other people in my building are Black and Latino. (Two of us in my household are white, and one of my housemates is Black. We all went to college; none of us are from the Bay Area.) Gentrification has made it very easy for me to move to Oakland. I know a lot of other people who live here--almost none of them are from here--who have helped me by giving me rides, showing me around, lending me a bike, letting me live with them for low rent. It's like the rails were greased to help me land here easily. I'm also impacted by gentrification in a different way, but how it feels to live here. I'm not used to it yet, if that's ever possible. I think a lot of people like me get used to the way displacement feels in the air, on BART, walking past the people who've been stolen from. I'm afraid that I might too, if I stayed here. But for now it rubs me, feels exhausting and heartbreaking and makes me feel nauseous and uneasy. I am impacted because I watch the way people like me are cogs in the machine of displacement and I feel angry, hopeless, judgmental, confused. It's important for me to grapple with all these feelings and also--at the end of the day, I'm housed, period.

Noa Grayevsky- Gentrification

I am a rich, white queer person living in San Francisco. I'm not from here. My parents immigrated to the United States from Israel where my Palestinian- Jewish ancestors colluded with the British colonizers and became white and rich off of land theft, displacement of their neighbors, and "real estate development." I am a graduate student with owning class parents. I graduated from Harvard and have a lot of educational privilege. I am a housemate to four young, white, queer people, an older sister to my very tall younger brother Eyal, a child of my parents Eli and Tami, a lover of my partner, Ro. My father and brother are business owners, and my mother, like her grandfather, is a real estate agent. This means the money in my family comes from other peoples' labor, from stealing land, from maintaining kkkapitalism and from gentrification and colonization. I moved to San Francisco five years ago to be closer to dear friends of mine, and I am embarrassed to share, to find other young, queer people like myself.

I am impacted by gentrification in San Francisco mostly in that money and access have been funneling to me without almost any effort on my part as a result of it. My parents bought me a house on Bernal Hill this year without me knowing about it, and gave it to me as a surprise, while my friends who are queer, poor folks of color were displaced from Bernal Hill to Oakland. Gentrification and displacement of poor folks downtown was a result of the building of the luxury condo my dad just bought. As the businesses change, I see more people who look like me all around. The police smile at me, It's all set up so that they'll be here to protect me from noticing or feeling the harm I am doing to others by being here in this way. I am a commercial for gentrification, as a young, white, class privileged, queer artist. I walk around and then rich, white, older men want to move here, like my dad, to be hip. My parents, between the two of them, own 6 condos and houses now in this country none of us are from, and each time my mom closes a deal on a "luxury" house or condo she gets paid lots of money, which she then uses to fund my brother's tech start up, my fancy grad school tuition, and my living here and gentrifying this place. I feel like the expectations, access, and inertia in place in my owning class family and culture set me up to displace others and benefit from their harm, and pushing against this feels both necessary to my humanity, like my duty to the earth and to those living around me, and also incredibly confusing- like doing a task that almost all my socialization worked hard to prevent me from doing. Here I am, humbled and hurting, confused and loving inside of it.


The Existentiality of Gentrification

by: Asik the Pirate

I think I might just have hustled rent for this month.

(Perpetual Refrain) I get three extra days next time!

I don’t come from here…it’s obvious.  My hat belongs sixty years in the past, my kicks have had intimate relations with several (I imagine bruised) feet, my shirt has a collar, and my gait betrays an admittedly desperate confidence.


Plus the folks that are left have seen it all after generally 40+ years on the plantation.  They know the new horse on the track.


“How you like the neighborhood?”


“Love it.”


“That’s good.  I’m Andre.  Been here my whole life.  I’ll see you.”


They see that I’m not a gentri-fuckerbut I know that I am sometimes reckless-eyeballed.  I am grateful for the cautious welcome.  I can locate and appreciate the fear.  Yet I wonder about my wife and roommate.  They don’t address them, they just let them pass by.  They might hopethey pass by.


You see I took no home from any man or woman.  I moved in from being briefly homeless to a place where my wife had moved to avoid a bad roommate situation, into an apartment rented by a young lesbian of Chinese descent, who happened to live in one of the last remaining Black sides of town.


Our rent is significantlybelow market rate, which amounts to just a little more than I can pay, and we have not and will not help to raise it!


But did my roommate know she was moving into a neighborhoodor did she just like the flat and the fish-shop on the corner?  Did she want to know and contribute to a community, or build an isolated fort on the Bay for sex and other thought experiments?  How was this space opened for me?


You see I knew this hood before I landed here, have friends, a few enemies perhaps, and have celebrated, cried, and struggled here. My entry was a strange homecoming, and I mean every syllable when I say I love it.  I don’t live in a hip spot, get no cool points for my domicile, yet I am surrounded by one of the most creative, resilient, strong communities that I’ve ever encountered.  But is it visible?  To Who?


And my roommate (my sweet, generous roommate)…Does she know that she is invisible not by race but by perceived class, translucent and gentile, not only able to dodge bullets but able to dodge us all?  Who is more afraid, my roommate, or the people who see a foreclosure sign hanging off of her “general good intentions”, and the bulldozer of green-washed upwardmobility as homespirals further and further from the atmosphere into the deepest recesses of space?



Jenny - Gentrification


Who am I in this City?


I am a class and education privileged (I have a master’s degree) 27-year old queer, White/Puerto Rican/Filipina mixed race woman, not from California.  I am trying to substitute teach in the city to create a more-flexible schedule compared to having more traditional jobs. I live with my Filipina-immigrant, college-educated partner in Berkeley/Oakland border.  I moved to California around 1 and a half years from Chicago with my sister who moved to San Francisco for her residency program as a gynecologist.  Before Chicago, I had lived in Michigan for 13 years.  Before Michigan, I lived in Japan, where I was born.



How am I impacted by gentrification?


 I am impacted by gentrification.  I must be profiting from it.  It allows me to live in a place with affordable rent for me and where a lot of young, like-minded queer people live around me.  I was not raised in California and it was my privilege that gave me a choice to move here.  It was my privilege that helped me find a place to live.  Because I have lighter skin, a masters degree, was a public school teacher, can speak English fluently without an accent, etc…landlords favor people like me and make it easier for me to move in compared to someone else who may not have those privileges.  My P.O.C. family (chosen and nuclear) without class/education privilege would have had a lot harder time renting the place.   They probably would have been denied. You have to show pay check stubs and bank account statements to prove you can pay the rent.  As a result, for the landlords, the more people like me they rent to, the more white people with more money will feel comfortable moving in and the more the rent will rise and the more poor people and people of color are pushed out of the area.  With this said, I am profiting from gentrification and I am being used by the landlords/developers to raise the property value for their profit.






                                                 Ethan Davidson


    I have lived in a section 8 studio apartment since 1988.  It has a nice place with good security.

    Although the Tenderloin is relatively resistant to gentrification, there are definitely people who want it gentrified

     It is no longer possible to get section 8 units in San Francisco.  If I lost my unit, I would have to move north to either Marin or Sonoma County.

      I have serious health problems, but I have found good health care providers that accept medical.  In Marin and Sonoma County, it is much harder.  Things are also very dispersed, and the public transportation system is not very good.  It would be hard to get to whatever health care providers I had without a car, especially when I am sick.





Dennis Gary


I am a resident of the Herbert Hotel on Powell Street.  It is being transformed from a residential hotel (SRO) to a tourist and student hotel.


As my fellow residents die off, their rooms are upgraded to tourist rooms, complete with hardwood floors and built-in televisions.  My room has an aging rug and no TV.


But I can get the Internet after a fight with management, which stated that the free wi-fi was not meant for residents – just tourists and students.


For a month, I could not get on the hotel’s wi-fi because they would not give me a password.  Then Sari of Central City SRO Collaborative appeared on the scene and suddenly I was given the password.


When the light fixture above my mirror burned out, my chest of drawers started falling apart, and paint started peeling from the ceiling, maintenance was suddenly too busy working on tourist and student rooms.


Then Jeannie of  the “In Home Support Services Collaborative” called the general manager and two hours later I had a new light fixture, a new chest of drawers, and a fresh coat of paint on my ceiling.



Zoe Bender

                                                                                                            Gentrification Blog                                       


I am 26 year old white girl with an asymmetrical hair cut who gets in free to most clubs because I dance so good. I am an unemployed college graduate. I have 84 cents in my bank account and I just applied to graduate school that will cost tens of thousands of dollars. I am a radical queer hipster who uses my foodstamps at health food stores. I am an artist and an aspiring revolutionary. I don’t own a car or bike, so I walk most places, at all hours of the day and night, and never feel unsafe.


Two years ago, my parents decided to move out of their rural beach-town house and back to San Francisco. My Dad is a painter who makes his money doing tech support for small businesses and my Mom is a writer who makes money as a development director for a non-profit arts organization. They found a place on 7th and Market that was not zoned for residential, but convinced the property manager to let them move into what used to be a garment factory. Over the course of a few months, they worked with the property manager to design a community of live-work spaces for artists. Most of the people that moved in are art students in their 20s, about two-thirds of whom are white. In exchange for her work in designing and managing the project, my Mom got a small additional studio rent-free for a year.  When I lost my job and house in October, my mom offered to let me move into her office space.


Gentrification is the reason I live where I do. Rent is very affordable, which is why my parents can live there, and why they have an extra room that I can live in. Part of the reason my parents were able to convince the property manager to let them move in was that the presence of artists in the neighborhood will eventually increase the property value. This neighborhood is a burgeoning hub of gentrification. Some of my wealthy, white friends don’t want to come visit me in this ‘scary’ part of town. Over the last two years I’ve seen bicycle shops, coffee shops and art galleries open up all over the neighborhood. About a year ago, a new nightclub opened up on 6th and Market. The club is called Monarch, and was recently voted one of the best sound systems in America. Every Tuesday I walk down 6th Street from Mission to Market to go dance to trap and dubstep at Monarch. I avoid making eye contact with the people I pass who are hanging outside the SROs and liquor stores. When they talk to me, I mostly ignore them. When I get to monarch, it’s like walking into a different universe, with chic Victorian era design and a mostly white crowd. Inside Monarch, I relax, surrounded by my fellow perpetrators of gentrification.  



Theresa Hays -Who am I in this City?

How am I impacted by gentrification?


I am Theresa Hays, an African American woman who about 12 years ago was living with my husband in a 1BR apartment in the Hunter’s Point section of the city…right near the Navy Shipyard.  I had become very ill due to a condition I suffered with which left me so weak from anemia that I wasn’t able to hold down a job.  My husband’s job laid him off so often and so sporadically until our bills and our rent began to get behind and then unpaid.


I feel that there was a blessing in our storm.  The white man assigned to us from the Property Management Company harassed us so much until we felt uneasy whenever we would leave the apartment to go somewhere wondering if we’d be able to get back in when we came home.  I wrote a letter to the apartment owner, (an African American man), which I pointed out some unhealthy conditions that we had been suffering with in the apartment. We had never talked to them about it because we were behind in our rent.  It was put on that owner’s heart to let us sign a “consensual agreement”, that he wouldn’t report us as an Eviction, and he would forgive the now $11,000 in back rents if we just left.  We looked at it to be a blessing in the storm, and we left.


During the time all this was going on, the Navy Shipyard and Lennar Properties were slowly moving in the area, “cleaning up” things.  I attended meetings where Lannar representatives were trying to “push” their cause on the community and San Francisco and the Mayor’s Office.


My husband and I put everything in Storage other than ample clothes that we stacked up and camouflaged behind us inside the back of the truck.  This began our first night of being “HOMELESS”, a word I never thought would describe me/us.  We led this life for 3 years sleeping in our little green pick-up truck not letting anyone know that we were “HOMELESS”.  It was important that we keep our lives looking like “business as usual” and most importantly consistently continuing to give praises to God through it all.


We read articles and heard stories about some shady things happening with Lennar Properties and began to again see that what seemed to be so bad and uncertain, was actually a blessing in the storm.  We were able to escape the experience of being caught up in the clutches of Lennar Properties which we now know is a HUGE EXAMPLE OF GENTRIFICATION in the San Francisco Hunter’s Point section of the city.




I am Marinette Tovar Sanchez, Mexican immigrant, living in the Fruitvale area, in the city of Oakland. I am a worker and an artist, an activist, a woman of color. I am, in few or many words, a professional everything-ologist. I am in the constant move to earn the daily bread, in the constant struggle to keep a roof over my head. I rent a room in a warehouse, which I share with 4 other people, also artists, activists and educators who share a space to afford rent.


I have seen gentrification from a couple of different perspectives. The first one is that of an artist who struggles, like many, to make ends meet and pay rent and living expenses. The second perspective is that of a working immigrant woman of color with limited resources and opportunities.

The first perspective helped me understand the impact and effect, negative in many ways, that artists have had in the gentrification of neighborhoods. Women and men who dedicate themselves to creating art often, and in most cases, struggle financially. The money flow of an artist tends to be sporadic, unreliable and unpredictable; this drives artists to look for options that are affordable. Most of the time, the living quarters that artists can afford end up being in low income neighborhoods, considered by many as the ghettos. Little by little, more and more artists move in, following the example and trend of others before them and slowly, the area starts becoming “cool, artsy, hip, quirky, colorful”; as a result, more and more people suddenly want to move in as well, thus driving the demand for housing in those neighborhoods up, along with rent prices and the cost of living in general, making it nearly impossible for the original tenants to afford to stay. Indirectly, especially in places like the Bay Area, artists have been the indirect spear-headers of gentrification; ironically, once other people begin to move in who have the resources that artists don’t have financially, the prices keep escalating and eventually, the artists who moved in to begin with, end up being pushed out of the neighborhood as well.

The second perspective, or more so the direct effect that gentrification had on me, was which I experienced as a low-to-no-income recent immigrant woman. After being homeless for a couple of months, I managed to save up some money. When looking for a place to live, my options were amazingly narrow and almost specific. I basically had to choose from the areas within Oakland where most of the people have been displaced to, thanks to gentrification. These areas were pretty much East Oakland and the not-gentrified side of West Oakland; low-income neighborhoods of people of color with high rates of violence and little to no access to healthy foods, although high and easy access to liquor stores. I ended up choosing East Oakland because luckily, it happens to be where my people, Latin@ people, have concentrated. It is a blessing that out of all the neighborhoods where I could have ended up, I stumbled upon one with a beautiful group of strong people who live in a constant struggle and who are deeply committed and involved in building a resilient, true community.





Who are you- white, Jewish, owning class, queer, woman, living in Berkeley


How does gentrifukation impact you? I currently live in a mostly gentrified neighborhood in Berkeley, close to 4th street shopping area. This area is less "hip" and close to "cool" places than my old house, near Macarthur bart. At my old place we were the only white people on the block, I felt pretty unsafe and scared, witnessed violence and heard gunshots a couple times, heard a woman moaning outside of my window, and witnessed a sexual assault. It became pretty unbearable to me so I moved out, both because of how scared I felt, and because of how unwanted I knew we all were. Our neighbors were not happy we were there. Part of my decision was also informed by the Rev change session. I know I will be a part of gentrification in my life but I have enough money to avoid being at the forefront of it. I no longer feel at the forefront of gentrification because of where I live, but I do frequently participate in consumerism related to gentrification, such as buying expensive lattes in the Mission or in Oakland, etc. 


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