‘HOUSING BLACK’ Mural Debuts in Tenderloin, Bringing Attention to Black Homelessness in San Francisco

Yesterday afternoon, philanthropic creative Malik Seneferu unveiled the massive “HOUSING BLACK” street mural on Tenderloin’s Golden Gate Avenue—echoing a chromatic call to fight the housing disparity and insecurity that runs rampant in the city. And across the Bay Area, for that matter.

Developed in collaboration with a bevy of organization and community notables—Code Tenderloin, St. Anthony’s, Larkin Street Youth Services, and the Hospitality House; both District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney and local organizer Geoffrey Morris were in attendance for the project’s unveiling that they, too, helped see to fruition—the mural is a true wonder to behold. Not only does it span the entire 100 block of Golden Gate Avenue, measuring in at 30 feet wide and 250 feet long, but it’s visible from hundreds of feet above the ground. 

The purpose of the mural? Simple: to shine an unignorable light on the fact that San Francisco’s Black population, though making up less than 6 percent of the city, represents nearly 40 percent of people experiencing homelessness. 

“Let’s recognize the large number of unhoused Black people navigating and residing in the Tenderloin, and let’s hurry up and house these people with dignity,” says Del Seymour, the “Mayor of the Tenderloin” and Founder of Code Tenderloin, on why they framed the importance of the “HOUSING BLACK” message in the neighborhood.

“This housing crisis is very rampant for black people all throughout San Francisco and all across America,” he continues in a press release. “We got black families living in tents, cars, and shelters. We must not be quiet about the number of unhoused black people that the Tenderloin Community has.”

The mural, too, is part of award-winning artist Malik Seneferu’s mural collaborations throughout the Bay Area, which includes “Invest Black” in Lakeview and “Reparations Now” in Richmond, among more. And just like those: community members were embraced and allowed to grab paintbrushes to help with the project’s final steps yesterday, Code Tenderloin providing hygiene kits and safety materials to anyone who needed them.

“This communal discourse is a great way to have our voices heard,” Seneferu shares; he has a personal history in the Tenderloin — having spent time with his family “as a child experiencing homelessness in the neighborhood.”

As reported in SF Human Rights Commission’s “Reinvestment of San Francisco Police Department Budget to Support the African American/Black Community” report — the same one that identified access to housing as a central issue for reinvestment — African Americans have the lowest median household income in San Francisco, and the Black population is the only racial group in San Francisco to consistently decline in every census count since 1970. 

Alas, this makes this mural’s aligned message even more important to both heed and act on — until figures like the ones we’ve described are left to the history books.

// To learn more about the Bay Area’s roots that entwine racism with housing, pursue A History of Racially Exclusionary Housing in the San Francisco Bay Area which goes into grand detail on the very subject; it’s also free, to boot. Feature photo courtesy of Karl Robillard/NBC Bay Area.

‘HOUSING BLACK’ Mural Debuts in Tenderloin, Bringing Attention to Black Homelessness in San Francisco
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