As the pandemic stretches into its second year, an estimated 278,000 households, or roughly one-quarter of the Bay Area’s 1.1 million renters, have little or no confidence they will be able to make next month’s rent, according to a San Francisco Public Press analysis of Census Bureau data. An estimated 60,000 renters living in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo and San Francisco counties who were behind on their rent in mid-December said they feared eviction in the next 60 days.
Journalists have also found it difficult to get answers to questions from various city departments during the pandemic. The San Francisco Public Press hosted a roundtable discussion with local reporters about the difficulties they have experienced in accessing public information.
“Unless you are building this specifically with the marginalized and vulnerable groups, it’s hard to build any system like this that does anything but further oppress people who are already under the thumb of various other structures and various other bureaucracies and powers,” said research fellow Ali Alkhatib.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that hospitals need to get ready for what he described as a potential “surge on top of a surge, arguably on top of another surge” of COVID-19 cases stemming from the holidays. In the Bay Area, hospitals still have some ICU capacity left, but health care practitioners are working hard to care for the influx of COVID-19 patients. The surge is leaving workers stretched thin and patients isolated.
As San Francisco receives doses of a vaccine against COVID-19, residents must continue to take precautions against transmission as a surge in infections continues, the director of the Department of Public Health at a Monday press briefing in which most journalists’ questions were left unanswered.
Rents may be falling, but the Bay Area is still unaffordable and has for years fallen short of its housing construction goals. The construction shortfall is particularly pronounced in subsidized housing. While the pandemic is changing the way people work and socialize and has resulted in economic downturn, acquiring land and building remain expensive. Sarah Karlinsky, senior advisor at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, a public policy think tank better known as SPUR, has published a report indicating that Bay Area municipalities should be constructing 45,000 units of housing per year.
San Francisco joined four other Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley on Friday afternoon to announce a new lockdown ahead of a state mandate to preserve intensive care unit beds.
Hunger has come along with job losses during pandemic-related shutdowns. In the Bay Area, food banks continue to see long lines. The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank has roughly doubled the number of people it serves since before the pandemic. The cost of procuring that food, meanwhile, is rising as federal aid programs expire.
Young people have led the way on major social and political movements in recent years, from climate action to Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Youth have also been mobilizing to get the right to engage more directly, through local elections.
Seventy-six years ago, the San Francisco Ballet introduced “The Nutcracker” to America. This year, the company will introduce the “Nutcracker Online” — a virtual holiday experience for the era of COVID-19.
S.F. Ballet is just one of many local arts organizations that have adapted their holiday offerings for a socially distanced season. It’s not easy to capture the spirit of live performance without an audience, but constraints have bred creativity and opened new channels of artistic expression.