News From Our Partners

Ahead of S.F. Supervisors Hearing, One More Google Bus Dust-Up

By KQED News Staff and Wires, KQED News Fix

Google played a lot of April Fools’ Day jokes Tuesday, but this was not one of them.

Protesters decked out in colorful outfits, some walking on stilts, handed out fake “Gmuni” passes as they blocked a Google commuter bus in the city’s Mission District Tuesday morning.  The action was just the latest in a string of protests against the shuttle service, which to some has become the No. 1 symbol of gentrification in an increasingly unaffordable San Francisco.

The protest came ahead of a San Francisco Board of Supervisors hearing Tuesday afternoon on a pilot program to charge private shuttle buses for using public bus stops.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

A Fresh Food Oasis in San Francisco's Tenderloin

By Melanie Young, KALW

In San Francisco’s Tenderloin, getting healthy fare often is not an option. Without a full-service grocery store in the neighborhood, residents rely on corner stores, and the district has the city’s highest concentration of convenience stores.

Tenderloin resident Steve Tennis says what they sell is often, “Poison, it's just poison. Mothers with little kids in their arms in their strollers. What is the first thing these children see that are two, three years old? Candy, alcohol, dirty books. Nothing healthy. If this is your experience, week in and week out, it doesn’t take long for you to get hard wired to that food source.”

While much of their merchandise is not nutritious, the stores are part of the fabric of the neighborhood. So a team of residents and neighborhood leaders is helping storeowners learn how they can offer more healthy food options profitably.

Read the complete story at KALW. KALW produced this story in association with the "Old & Poor in Tech City" collaboration between New America Media and Central City Extra. 

Covered California Gives People More Time to Finish Their Applications

By Rachel Dornhelm, KQED, The California Report

Officials with California's health insurance exchange are adamant they are not extending the March 31 deadline to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Still, they announced Wednesday that there will be some leeway for those who start an application by this Monday at midnight.

Read the complete story at The California Report

Three Weeks Left for Free Tax Preparation in Bay Area

By the Editorial TeamOakland Local 

Bay Area residents can have their taxes done for free through United Way’s Earn It! Keep It! Save It! program, available at more that 200 locations in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Solano counties. The service is available to households that earned less than $52,000 in 2013.

Now in its 12th year, Earn It! Keep It! Save It!’s trained tax volunteers ensure that low-income Bay Area residents get the tax refunds they deserve, including the Earned Income Tax Credit. The tax credit can total more than $6,000 per household, and for those struggling to make ends meet, having free tax preparation as well as assistance obtaining the tax credit can bridge the gap between poverty and being able to pay the bills. Last year, Earn It! Keep It! Save It! helped secure $74 million in refunds for 68,000 households – $24.8 million of which was the tax credit.



Read the complete story at Oakland Local.

Supervisors to Consider Legalizing San Francisco In-Law Units

By Bryan Goebel, KQED News Fix

San Francisco supervisors have begun considering a proposal that would allow landlords to voluntarily legalize in-law units, or secondary apartments, that make up a shadow housing market where some of the city’s most vulnerable tenants live, sometimes in substandard conditions.

The measure by Supervisor David Chiu is an effort to preserve one of the city’s largest stocks of affordable housing. City officials estimate there are up to 40,000 in-laws, often in the garages or basements of single-family homes, which make up about 10 percent of the housing supply.

A public hearing on the proposal Monday before the supervisors’ Land Use and Economic Committee was dominated by questions about how it would affect property owners, who would pay for potentially expensive upgrades to bring the units up to code, and complaints from residents in the city’s western neighborhoods who fear increased density.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

The New Gold Rush: How Tourist Rentals Are Affecting San Francisco’s Housing Market

By Ben Trefny and Charlotte Silver, KALW Crosscurrents

The sharing economy in San Francisco is humming. Companies like Airbnb have figured out how to make a lot of money by using existing housing stock to meet consumer demand, which in Airbnb’s case is coming from tourists. Fast Company magazine declared AirBnB will soon become “the world’s largest hotel chain – without owning a single hotel.”

On the surface, it might look like a win-win. But where somebody’s getting paid, somebody is usually losing out. In the case of tourist rentals, people looking for permanent, long-term housing may be the losers.

Cities around the world have recently become more militant in enforcing laws governing this industry, so how has San Francisco responded?

"Great spot along the cable car line!"

Read the complete story at KALW Crosscurrents. 

All of These Monster Invasive Fish Came Out of One Small S.F. Lake

By Eric Simons, Bay Nature

Jonathan Young, a San Francisco State graduate student in biology and ecological restoration intern at the Presidio Trust, has the job of trying to restore some semblance of native life to Mountain Lake, in San Francisco’s Presidio. But as this sequence of photos shows, the native three-spined sticklebacks and Pacific chorus frogs he would like to restore would face some ferocious predators lurking in the watery depths. So it is Young’s job, for now, to try to get the predators out.

It is  a tough — perhaps impossible — task for a lone man with a fishing net. Mountain Lake covers about 4 acres and is around 10 to 12 feet deep, small in the grand scheme of things, but that does not seem to have harmed its ability to support, for example, a very very big carp.

Read the complete story at Bay Nature. 

Talk of Immigration Reform Fuels Spike in Fraud Cases

By Maria Antonieta MejiaNew America Media

Cecilia, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, never anticipated that her life in the United States would turn into a real-world telenovela, the popular Spanish-language dramas.

A few years ago, she married a U.S. citizen who soon started to mistreat her. He later filed for divorce without telling her, but then the couple reconciled and got remarried. Then he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Before he died, he told his wife that he wanted to help her regularize her immigration status.

That is  when Cecilia, who declined to give her real name, decided to seek out legal advice from an acquaintance. The individual charged her $2,500 but never filed her immigration case. Today, she is still undocumented.

Cecilia, who works as a janitor in the Bay Area, is one of a growing number of immigrants taken in by those who promise to regularize their immigration status for a fee – and then do not deliver.

Read the complete story at New America Media. 

 

Obamacare Enrollment Fairs Offer Signup Help as Deadline Looms

By KQED News Staff and Wires, KQED News Fix

With the deadline to sign up for health insurance through Medi-Cal or Covered California approaching rapidly, Bay Area residents are being offered some face-to-face assistance in getting enrolled.

The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, a health care workers union with 150,000 members, is offering five free health care enrollment fairs in the Bay Area this week, starting with events in San Francisco and Hayward Tuesday.

The fairs offer information and face-to-face help in signing up for free or low-cost health insurance, according to union spokesman Sean Wherley. Those who currently lack insurance are required to either sign up for Medi-Cal, for those who are eligible, or purchase insurance through the state’s health care exchange, Covered California.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

A Starting Place for Former Foster Youth

By Rachel Wong, KALW Crosscurrents

Dejon Lewis was 11 years old when child protective services arrived to take him and his twin sister away from their mother, whom he says is a drug addict. But instead of giving themselves over to the state, the two children made a run for it. Lewis says they stayed with a family friend for a while, but eventually they turned themselves in, and that is when he entered the foster care system. Since then, Lewis has bounced around a lot.

“It’s hard to live when you’re just living with strangers and strangers and strangers, and no relatives. But I know down the road that that wouldn’t last forever, so I had to figure out how to be more independent,” he says.

Now he is 21, and he is  emancipated from foster care, but he is still not settled yet. Only a few months ago, things got especially bad. He lost his apartment and struggled to find a place to sleep.

Read the complete story at KALW Crosscurrents.