Youth anxious about their future due to SF cost of living 

click to enlarge City youths have a “sense of fear” regarding the difference in economic classes, according to a new report. Youths surveyed were between 12 and 23 years old. - MIKE KOOZMIN/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Mike Koozmin/S.f. Examiner FILE PHOTO
  • City youths have a “sense of fear” regarding the difference in economic classes, according to a new report. Youths surveyed were between 12 and 23 years old.

While some longtime renting seniors are worried about being evicted from the place they have called home for decades, there are concerns among The City's youth about whether they will even have the chance to call San Francisco home as they enter adulthood.

Adding to the stories of those impacted by San Francisco's rising cost of living -- everything from rent to simply buying food -- are youth leaders who have started to call attention to how their demographic is being affected.

The broken ties with friends and community when one's family is displaced, no extra money to pay for SAT college entrance exam lessons, the fading dream of starting a family in San Francisco, and the lack of job opportunities, are among the concerns.

Some of the worries of San Francisco's youth are documented in a draft report discussed Monday evening by the 17-member Youth Commission, appointed by the mayor and the Board of Supervisors to represent those between the ages of 12 and 23. The report is based on a discussion of about 50 youths at a recent town hall meeting related to the changes San Francisco has undergone since the economy rebounded with the booming technology industry beginning in 2011.

"They notice there is a lot of change going on," said Allen Lu, 26, a Youth Commission outreach coordinator. "They feel less secure about being able to live here permanently or long-term."

Youth Commissioner Angel Van Stark, 21, said youths have a "sense of fear" and tension remains on the streets between the different economic classes, specifically in certain areas like downtown or 16th and Mission streets.

For some youths, the fear and tension is rooted in a perceived lack of opportunity in a tech-fueled local economy, as well as an overall anxiety about the chances of survival as prices continue to escalate.

Additionally, youths hoping to start a family are becoming less optimistic they can do so in San Francisco.

"The issue of affordability has made the dream of starting a family in San Francisco more elusive than it ever has been before," the report said. "The ruthless force of gentrification has made transitional age youth participants feel vulnerable as they witness their fellow San Franciscans being driven out in droves."

Another complaint from youths is that as The City evolves, it is doing so without the concerns of their demographic in mind. While commercial real estate is being gobbled up and construction is booming, "there are less youth-friendly places in their communities," the report notes.

Commissioner Eric Wu, 20, said that many youths who have lived in San Francisco their whole life believe they have contributed to The City and should have the right to stay there and raise a family if they so choose.

"That right should not be taken away," he said. "City Hall has the obligation to fight for that. We need to see more action."

According to the report, "youth are questioning the City's dedication to all constituents, and not just to tech workers. The young in our City are crushed by the weight of the affordability and housing crisis."

The report recommends some ways to help address the challenge, such as building 400 housing units by 2015 for youths and providing more services to help them find housing or jobs.

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