A couple of weeks ago some jerk who used to work for ICE wrote a hideous op-ed for the SF Chronicle about how immigrants are to blame for the Bay Area’s housing crisis. I won’t give it any clicks, but if you want to read it, here it is on archive.org. I wrote a letter to the editor but they didn’t publish it, so here it is instead:
As an immigrant, tech worker, and now startup founder and job creator, I felt a strong need to respond to Lou Di Leonardo’s recent op ed blaming people like me for the Bay Area’s housing crisis. Though let’s be real, he’s not blaming white Canadians in his piece, which is rife with dog-whistle references to immigrants of color.
The causes of our city’s housing crisis are complex and rooted in the United States’s history of housing-related racism – zoning laws that restrict dense multi-family housing, redlining and the resulting exclusion of Black people from benefiting from programs like the GI bill, and more recently in SF, rampant NIMBYism preventing affordable housing from being built. None of these should be blamed on immigrants. We are here creating jobs and contributing to the country’s economic well-being; the housing crisis is both a homegrown and a worldwide problem, and restricting immigration is not going to help solve it. What will help solve the crisis is upzoning neighborhoods to allow multi-family housing and then building lots of it. People need places to live, wherever they are from.