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Politics & Policy

LGBTQ+ prioritize housing, diversity at highest rates: SF voter poll

Jim Martinez chants as he walks down Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco during the “White Night” march down Market Street from the Castro District on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (Photo by Carlos Avila Gonzalez/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

LGBTQ+ people in San Francisco are facing some of the most difficult economic hardships in the city, which may be why they’re also the most bullish about building more low-income and affordable housing, according to a recent poll.

The Standard Voter Poll found a major income gap between LGBTQ+ people and the following other groups in the city: tech workers, union laborers, city workers and parents. Twenty percent of LGBTQ+ residents reported making less than $35,000 a year—a rate twice as high as parents—while almost half (49%) of LGBTQ+ residents reported making less than $100,000 a year. By comparison, only 6% of tech workers reported making less than six figures.

With this context in mind, it may come as little surprise that The Standard’s poll found that LGBTQ+ residents are the most supportive group when it comes to building more low-income and affordable housing, with 85% of respondents saying it was needed. Tech workers came in as the second-most supportive group on this answer with 73% in support, while parents (65%) and city workers (63%) were still concerned but less so.

The poll also shows how optimistic LGBTQ+ respondents are in their fellow city residents: 59% of LGBTQ+ people said the thing that makes them most hopeful for the future of San Francisco is its diversity of people and opinions. No other group came in above 49% on that issue. 

“I found that to be an interesting takeaway,” said Taylor Jordan, a partner at Lighthouse Public Affairs and co-chair of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza. “I think a lot of LGBQT+ folks find their way to San Francisco specifically because of the promise of a safe city that allows you to be who you are. I also think that’s a reflection where other people might come to San Francisco for a job, a lot of LGBTQ+ folks come here because of a promise of a better life that the city gives you—regardless of the high cost of living.”

LGBTQ+ residents—who made up nearly a fifth of the 1,048 registered voters surveyed—also came out on top as the group with the most affection for San Francisco, with 18% saying they were “very satisfied” living in the city. They also are among the most civically engaged residents, as 84% of LGBTQ+ respondents said they definitely intend to vote in the June primary election. That percentage tied with union workers as the most voter-engaged group in the city.

However, that engagement hasn’t necessarily translated into more LGBTQ+ officials currently serving in elected office.

“It’s funny, because you would think there would be more representation on the Board of Supervisors, and for a long time we only had one supervisor who identified as one of the letters,” said Gina Simi, former co-chair of the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club. “It wasn’t until the mayor appointed (Supervisor) Matt Dorsey that we had two, which I guess is a little more representative of the community.

“We haven’t had a lesbian on the board since before the millenium. It’s absurd.”

The Standard’s poll came out weeks ahead of Mayor London Breed and the police department’s announcement that they would not take part in this summer’s Pride Parade, as officers in uniform are barred from the event following a violent clash between parade-goers and police in 2019.

It seems the majority of LGBTQ+ voters in the city will be fine with that, as no group had higher disapproval ratings for San Francisco police. Sixty-three percent of LGBTQ+ people who were polled said they either somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove of the police department.

“It’s a complicated relationship with police that LGBTQ+ folks have that some other folks might not have,” Jordan said. “That relationship being frayed doesn’t surprise me. There is a long history there.”

When the poll drilled down on what LGBTQ+ voters like most about the city, the top result was the food, restaurants and nightlife, followed by the parks and public spaces. Homelessness and the cost of living ranked as the two things LGBTQ+ people like least about San Francisco. Both of these results were consistent with other groups.

District Attorney Chesa Boudin had the strongest disapproval rating of all elected officials in San Francisco, but LGBTQ+ voters seem to have a slightly better tolerance for the progressive prosecutor’s agenda. Of all LGBTQ+ respondents, 45% said they “strongly disapprove” of Boudin. 

By comparison, tech workers, parents, labor union workers and city workers all expressed severe disapproval of the DA by more than 50%.