Founders, want to solve the housing crisis? Invite people to vote


Let me start by saying, with local elections, a tiny number of votes can swing an election. So, your vote truly matters. A few companies just showing up can swing an election and dramatically impact policy for years to come.

We’re in the middle of a housing crisis. People are paying an exorbitant amount for rent. Teachers and other workers can’t afford to live here. Homelessness is increasing. A lot of people are leaving.

I went to an event this week with other CEOs and a few elected officials. The CEOs represented thousands of employees. We were all at this event to talk about how we could solve this problem - ultimately by increasing housing supply. When I talked to a local official about what’s going on, the person replied, “tech people don’t vote”. It just hit me. That’s why our issues, like solving the housing supply, don’t get as much attention as we’d like. Our officials pay attention to people who vote. We don’t vote, we don’t matter. We vote, we matter. It’s that simple.

There are a lot of reasons we may not vote. As the organizer said, as founders, we have blinders on. We have to do some version of, grow, raise capital to hit the next stage, grow, raise capital and grow more. It’s all consuming. Maybe you also just moved to the city and haven’t figured out how to register.

This election is incredibly important, if you want San Francisco to be an affordable city. You can probably tell that the topic I'm most passionate about is solving the housing crisis, but that may be different for you or your team.  No matter what issue is most important to you all, the common theme is figuring out how to mobilize our teams to go out to vote.

Here’s a quick list that you can go through with your company, while staying apolitical.

1. Email your company to register to vote. People have until October 22 to register online. After the 22nd, they can register in person on Election Day. Here’s the link:

2. Invite your local elected official to come speak. Ask questions like, why is rent so high? What are they doing to alleviate the housing crisis? If you’re too small for them to speak, combine with other offices. Here are a few you could invite:

3. Invite a housing expert to speak. Here are a few people that were recommended to me:

  • Kim-Mai Cutler. She’s now at Initialized, used to be at TechCrunch and wrote an incredible piece on the housing crisis. If you’re too small for her to speak, combine with other offices. Kim also recommended a few other people to invite - added them in the notes.

4. Email your company the day before the election.

  • Let your team know they can take time off on election day to go vote.
  • Send a batch of voting guides to help, whether from the SF Chronicle, Democratic party, Republican party, Libertarian party, or more.
  • Let them know Uber / Lyft have free rides to polling stations that day.
    5. Send this post to your founder friends.

    6. Join the YIMBY movement! The YIMBY (Yes in My Backyard) movement is the opposite of NIMBYs (Not in My Back Yard). The YIMBYs believe that dramatically increasing all types of housing supply is key to solving the housing crisis. As Kim explains, for 40 years, California has downzoned neighborhoods and restricted housing supply, in addition to tilting the property tax system in favor of property owners. The YIMBY movement is pushing to tilt that system back; it recognizes that increasing housing supply at multiple income levels is critical toward managing affordability. Here are some groups you should join:

    7. Share your email address with me. Let me know if this is a problem you’re interested in solving and we can go from there.

    8. Any other suggestions? Please add them to the comments.

    This has gotten insane. It’s time to do sometime. It’s time we all mobilize and make a difference. Would love to hear ideas. 



    * Kim also recommended these speakers:
    • Corey Smith from SF Housing Action Coalition
    • Jeff Kositsky, who runs SF's Homelessness and Supportive Housing Department
    • Richard Rothstein, who wrote "The Color of Law."