Oakland fire death toll a symptom of housing crisis, advocates say

by Ryan Smith05 Dec 2016
A deadly warehouse fire in Oakland, Calif., is a symptom of the larger housing crisis, housing advocates say.

The fire, which killed at least 36 people at a dance party Friday night, broke out in an Oakland warehouse known as the Ghost Ship. The warehouse “supported underground artists and provided makeshift residences for people priced out of rapidly gentrifying Bay Area cities,” according to a news release.

However, the building lacked basic fire safety protections – and when fire engulfed the building Friday night, the main escape path from the building was quickly blocked. The blaze may be the deadliest structure fire in Oakland history, according to Commondreams.org.

Housing advocates place the blame for the death toll on a lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area. The tech boom has turned San Francisco into one of the world’s most expensive cities, and advocates say that marginalized and low-income residents have been forced to live in increasingly unsafe places.

“No one should die this way. No one should have to live without proper fire safety measures in their home just to try to make ends meet, just to make art, just to be in the city,” tenants’ rights organization Causa Justa wrote in a Saturday Facebook post. “Black and Latino working class Oaklanders are pushingfor habitability and affordability solutions for our city, for this very reason.”


What do you think? Can the Bay Area’s affordable housing crunch be blamed at all for the death toll? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
 

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