58% of San Francisco’s Black Inhabitants Have Thought of Transferring Out of State

  • According to the 2020 Census, Black Americans comprise 5.7% of San Francisco’s population.
  • Decades of targeted policies have affected the community’s population and the conditions of historic neighborhoods.
  • The city’s reparations task force has advocated for financial incentives that would repair history and bring Black Americans back to San Francisco. 

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As the city of San Francisco battles to lure residents back into the city post-pandemic, many of its Black residents are considering leaving the state altogether.

Today, only 5.7% of the city’s population identifies as Black, compared to 13% in 1970. Of that community, predominantly located in neighborhoods including the Fillmore District and Bayview-Hunter Point, 58% say they are considering moving out of state, citing the high cost of housing and high taxes as major grievances. This figure is up to 14% greater than Asian and Latino respondents, according to a 2019 University of California-Berkeley poll. 

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Once lauded as the “Harlem of the West,” the Fillmore District was home to thousands of Black workers who arrived in the 1940s. It became home to some of the region’s hottest jazz clubs, hosting the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane. The political landscape served as a hotbed for the Black Panther Party and other notably progressive politics. 

Under the guise of “urban renewal” in the 1960s and 1970s, however, Black homeowners were pushed out when their property was seized for developing high-rises and office buildings. By 1990, the Black population decreased to 10.9% of the city’s population. By the 2010s, the growth of Silicon Valley and subsequent increase in cost of living left many Black residents, facing high taxes and the lowest household income, with fewer options in San Francisco. 

The recently developed San Francisco’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee’s task force is advocating for $5 million cash payments for Black residents who were wrongfully impacted by policies and displacement. While the source and feasibility of this form of reparations payment is still under debate, the future and potential return of Black San Francisco still remains in the balance. 

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