The Bay Area is a special place. Folks will agree that it’s one of the country’s most beautiful places to live, but what makes this place special is the wonderful diversity of people who make this region their home.
But don’t take it from me—take it from them. Today, the San Francisco Foundation released a survey of attitudes of Bay Area residents, who said that having people from different races and income levels is part of what makes our region a great place to live. And they want to keep it that way—nearly two-thirds said that protecting the racial and cultural diversity of our neighborhoods and local communities should be a priority for action.
The poll was conducted by EMC Research, a leading public opinion research firm with offices across the country.
The findings reveal a number of significant concerns as well. A majority of residents are now pessimistic about the direction of the region, almost a twenty percent increase from a similar poll conducted just three years ago. At a time of rising challenges around homelessness, the cost of housing, and a host of other challenges, this should be no surprise. African-American and Latinx respondents are particularly concerned about protecting the diversity of neighborhoods and about finding a place to live.
But underlying these worries is some very good news, and something to build on. Bay Area residents have a vision of the neighborhoods they want to live in, where people of different races, cultures, and financial means are all welcome and feel they belong. They want to live in thriving, inclusive neighborhoods—an overwhelming majority said that there should be affordable places to live in their neighborhood for all people, whether white, Black, or brown. Across the board, respondents agreed that housing is a basic human need.
Meeting these priorities will take vision and action. Residents were clear that business leaders, landlords, builders, and especially government and elected officials have an essential role to play in preserving the diversity of our communities and ensuring that people have an affordable home.
This is work that we are actively engaging in at the San Francisco Foundation. We are using our relationships, resources, and our voice to advance racial equity and economic inclusion in general, and to address the housing challenge in particular. We are making grants that have helped advance policy designed to prevent homelessness, protect renters, preserve existing affordable housing, and produce a significant number of new homes in our region. We’re partnering with other foundations, businesses, developers, and a wide range of community, faith, and advocacy organizations to ensure that these policies benefit the Black, brown, and native communities that are most in danger of being torn apart.
And thanks to the generosity of our donors, including the Bay Area Leads Fund, which helped support the research that we’re sharing today, we are able to provide leadership, partner with colleagues in the community, and help shape a better future for all residents of the region.
We are working hard to build a future in which every person has an affordable place to call home, can be prosperous and leave a nest egg for the next generation, and where everyone can shape the decisions that affect their lives. Our goal is to help make the region a place where everyone feels that they belong. This work is just getting started and it will require a broad group of partners who are willing to take action across the region.
This poll shows that across our community we hold a common vision for the future and a sense of urgency to make that vision a reality. It reminds us that we have our work cut out for us, but at a time of significant challenges—locally, nationally, and around the world—this is a real reason for hope.