San Francisco's 'Black Exodus' Gathers Steam

A new study has found that African Americans are abandoning San Francisco in droves, faster than any other U.S. city.

The black population has decreased from 13.4 percent in 1970 to 10.9 percent in 1990 and comprises 6.5 percent of San Francisco’s population in 2005 — the latest year figures were available.

The task force also projects the numbers to fall still further, to 4.6 percent by 2050.

Speakers at a hearing in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood said that the findings are just the latest in a series of reports dating back to the 1970s, and validated their fears about an “black exodus” that could almost eliminate the city’s African American population.

Critics blamed the problem on a dearth of economic opportunity and African-American culture, combined with skyrocketing housing prices driven by gentrification.

Some community members say the situation will worsen after Lennar Corp., a major development company, builds 1,600 housing units in a former Navy shipyard in Hunters Point.

Residents fear they will be pushed out by redevelopment, and then priced out of the area altogether once the new housing is in place.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, these concerns have a historical precedent, when the city’s Redevelopment Agency “intentionally” displaced entire African American neighborhoods following redevelopment of the city’s Fillmore district in the 1960s and ’70s.

City politicians and bureaucrats say that they can prevent history from repeating itself with a new push for public housing, violence-prevention programs in impoverished neighborhoods, and “certificates of preference” that would allow residents displaced by redevelopment to move back once the new housing units are built, reports the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

–T.J. Johnston/


“Black population deserting S.F., study says”
San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 10, 2008

“Black exodus emergency”
San Francisco Bay Guardian, Aug. 13, 2008

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