San Francisco,Sweat equity

Keeping kids in San Francisco makes the city better for everyone

January 31, 2017
in Kids

Whenever I write about family flight from the city, the comments roll in. Who cares if there are children here? Let the rugrats move to Pleasanton, and don’t let the BART train doors hit them on the way out! Emails in the past couple of weeks have included “Not quite sure what the value of home-grown children is” and “I say let these families go.” Obviously, if families want to leave the city, that’s up to them, but many parents of young children wish they could stay, and ensuring that more of them can stay benefits all of us. “If it turns into an all-adult playground, it’ll definitely lose its flavor, its vibe,” Longaway said. The stay-at-home mom and her husband, who works for the city’s Board of Appeals, wanted to stay so badly, they went through a lottery process to obtain a new Habitat for Humanity home, one of 11 that opened Saturday in the Ocean View neighborhood. They were one of 400 families that won the lottery and put in 500 hours of sweat equity to help the homes get built. Under the Habitat model, Longaway’s family will owe $475,000 on the house, but the loan has zero interest and required no down payment. “It’s still a little surreal,” Longaway said of finally receiving the keys to her own San Francisco home. What’s also surreal is that San Francisco has so few kids and that so many residents don’t think that’s a problem. For starters, in a city that professes to value diversity, imagine saying, “Who cares if they live here?” about any other demographic group. “I’m a big believer in diversity in general, and young people are a part of that equation of diversity,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen, the first mother of a young child to be elected to full-time city office since former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier’s last election in 2006. “We’re going to become desperately boring if we only have wealthy adults.” That’s the way we’re headed. Census data show 13.4 percent of San Franciscans are younger than 18, the smallest percentage of any city in the country. Statistics from Ted Egan, the city’s chief economist, show that between 2010 and 2015, 4.1 percent of San Francisco’s kids ages 1 to 4 had moved into the city in the past year, while 9.8 percent of that age grouped...

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