Since 2004, Chainbreaker was focused on Transit Justice because car-dependency keeps people poor. But the high cost of living in Santa Fe makes car-dependency hard to escape for many low-income people. Development efforts in our neighborhoods rarely include our voices — the voices of the people currently living there — leading to gentrification. As more and more of us get displaced, we move to sprawling areas that disproportionately lack resources, jobs or services. this leads to even more car-dependency and the cycle continues.
The root of the problem is the lack of affordable housing in Santa Fe. A national report released in 2013 showed that over half of all Santa Fe renters have unaffordable rents and that almost a third of all Santa Fe renters pay more than 50% of their income on housing. Even at a time when housing affordability is in a crisis everywhere in the country, these numbers are higher than the national average.
In a study commissioned by the City of Santa Fe in 2012, home prices have risen by 65% and affordability is the most cited reason why renters are unable to own homes. At the same time, the median rent in Santa Fe increased by 25%, making it even harder for renters to get by. Because of this, only about 38% of people who work in Santa Fe can afford to live here.
These numbers are staggering, but are not surprising for those of us who feel the effects of this housing crisis every day. We watch our friends and family members move out of Santa Fe to more affordable cities. We struggle to pay rising rents. We face evictions and foreclosures through no fault of our own. We see the number of people living on the streets grow and many of us face homelessness ourselves. We wait on lists for years to get the chance to move into affordable housing.
But Santa Feans Couldn’t Wait Any Longer!
Chainbreaker members worked hard to create a community-led “Bill of Rights” that can help make lives better for the people who are bearing the brunt of the housing affordability crisis in Santa Fe. We rode buses and knocked on doors to build a real movement for housing justice in Santa Fe.
After over a year of organizing, gathering input from hundreds of community members, dozens of meetings and countless conversation, the Resident’s Bill of Rights was finally created.
Almost immediately, due to the tireless work of Chainbreaker members, another victory was claimed for our city. In July, 2014, a city resolution mirroring our Bill of Rights was later adopted unanimously by city council, paving the way for a new era for Housing Justice in Santa Fe!