Homelessness is a business issue too

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(Photo Credit: Flikr/HernanPinera)

Homelessness is often addressed as a human issue and rightly so. An estimated 7,000 people are struggling to find shelter and stability in San Francisco alone. But the growing homeless population is also taking a toll on many local businesses. 
On August 15th, a group of Bay Area manufacturing leaders gathered in San Francisco to discuss trends and challenges in their field. It quickly became clear that the Bay Area housing crisis was to blame for a serious lack of qualified applicants for manufacturing positions. Too often, qualified candidates cannot afford the staggering cost of living in or transportation to the Bay Area on the salaries and benefits manufacturers are able to offer. 
Miranda Jones of Galanter & Jones agreed and added to the conversation. She explained that not only is the housing crisis limiting qualified applicants, it is pushing residents out of their homes. And while Galanter & Jones is located in the heart of a burgeoning economy of makers on the central waterfront of  San Francisco, their neighbors also include a growing number of homeless people. People have set up trailers where they live with loud animals, cook on the sidewalk, leave dog feces, do drugs, and create an enormous amount of trash. Multiple company vehicles have been broken into or damaged. One was even set on fire and nearly burned down the entire facility.
Jones estimates that over the four years her company has utilized the space, they have spent approximately $5,000 addressing these challenges. For many entrepreneurs like Jones who choose to keep their business local, this has become an all too common cost of operating in a region stricken by a housing crisis.
Ending homelessness will be complicated and must include collaboration between health care providers, social workers, housing advocates, business owners, and many more key stakeholders. But one thing is certain, homelessness and the impact it has on our communities will only get worse if we do not increase our region’s housing supply.

That’s why the East Bay Leadership Council recently launched a member-led task force focused on increasing housing supply. To learn more and sign up for meeting announcements visit www.eastbayleadershipcouncil.com/join-a-taskforce 
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