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.


  • by Affordable bs | 12/5/2016 2:02:20 PM

    You will never get affordability when the supply is less than the demand. Simple econ 101. The poor need to move to another state or another city. I hear Mexico has lots of open land and unused houses since a majority are not living in SF. I have a 3000' house next to me for sale for 225,000. Move to PA. You see there are lots of places to live that don't cost as much as SF. Life sucks and then you have to move.

  • by More knee jerk reaction | 12/5/2016 2:21:06 PM

    My heart goes out to the victims.

    What is an affordability advocate? Some other name for an activist group? Why not advocate free homes for all?

    Yes affordable housing is lacking in almost every large city. Supply and demand as Affordable bs says.

    Should someone making minimum wage be able to buy or rent a home? I couldn't when I was going to school and making the minimum.

    But then I got a couple room mates, increased my earning power through knowledge and boom, welcome to the middle class.

    There are some people that don't want to roll up their sleeves and improve their situation. They want big government to come to the

    rescue and save them. Personal responsibility and skin in the game is no where to be seen. I am going to guess this fire will be the tool for these "advocates" to push yet for another government solution(which won't solve anything.

  • by larry | 12/5/2016 4:15:37 PM

    The building codes would have made it virtually impossible to upgrade the electrical in that building.. The codes over require and double the costs so nothing gets done.


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