Voices of Youth

Voices of Youth: Why We Need Supportive Housing in the Sunset District

Why We Need Supportive Housing in the Sunset District

By Plyfaa Suwanamalik-Murphy 

“Affordable housing in the Sunset” is a phrase that doesn’t seem to fit this district.

True, there are rooms and buildings here and there that give lower rent, but these places are scarce as well as they are limited. The pandemic has swept into this City and made the homeless and housing crisis more apparent. But, even with the pandemic, affordable housing has steadily vanished over the past decade – and in the process, our district has lost essential workers and their families.

While shelter-in-place housing has supported thousands of homeless people and families, what will happen when the time comes to dismantle these shelters? Will things revert back to the seemingly normal? I find this hard to believe. Even with the rent moratoriums and extended pandemic relief checks, the loss of income will result in more people needing housing and social services.

With online learning and the feuding between the Board of Education, Mayor London Breed, and the teachers’ union, students are caught in the crossfire and are left to cope with online learning, mental health, social isolation, and self-motivation challenges. This current battle and its adverse effect forced on students will likely continue into the coming years.

When reflecting on this problem that is consuming the lives of public school students, we need to plan for the waves of change that will occur as public schools, along with the City, reopen.

As the Sunset sits in a cradle, hidden from the City’s visible crisis, our diverse set of opinions serve to separate us. Along with the political divide that seems to define this country, as a district, we are unable to agree on what best serves to help and spur our neighborhood into a new decade. Of course, this is expected as San Franciscans debate if it is part of either a melting pot or a salad bowl – it hasn’t been decided yet. 

But does it matter? Either way, youth and their families currently need or are going to need housing. With proposed developments such as the 2550 Irving St. Project, we have a chance to get in front of the problems that will surely emerge with the dissipation of COVID-19.

Looking at the 2550 Irving St. Project from a youth perspective, I see an opportunity for low-income youth to overcome the financial instabilities of their families and receive a solid foundation to focus on education, extracurricular activities, and their interests. With the Sunset moving into an era of positive reform, I don’t see why affordable housing should be left behind. With transportation innovations, such as the 29-Sunset Improvement Project, the 2550 Irving St. Project perfectly complements the purpose of supporting San Francisco natives, immigrants, families and youth.

Plyfaa Suwanamalik-Murphy is a Sunset District native, a homeschooler in her senior year and SF Youth Commissioner for District 4. She can be reached at faamurphy@gmail.com.

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