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SF Activist Shot in the Philippines Recovering in Hometown — But Can't Find Affordable Housing

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San Francisco activist Brandon Lee, left, who was shot in the Philippines in August, at a digital press conference on Earth Day April 23, 2020.

A San Francisco activist shot in the Philippines remains paralyzed from the chest down and in search of affordable housing in his hometown after a suspected extrajudicial assassination attempt by the Philippine government for his activism last year.

Brandon Lee, an environmental activist from the Sunset District, was airlifted home to San Francisco from the Philippines in October after pleas for his security. Now, Lee is looking for affordable and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant housing in a city that has gotten more expensive since he left for the Philippines in 2010.

“After four months in four different hospitals in Baguio, Manila, San Francisco and Santa Clara, Brandon came home to the Sunset District and is living with his family,” said San Francisco District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar. “While very strong in spirit, Brandon is paralyzed from the chest down and is in need of 24-hour care.”

On Aug. 6, 2019, Lee was shot outside his home in the Philippines by unknown assailants. Lee and his colleagues repeatedly warned of intimidation by the government and armed forces of the Philippines for their activism around the defense of land and natural resources in indigenous communities in the Ifugao province in northern Philippines.

Previous Coverage

Lee became an activist while studying at San Francisco State University. There, he joined the League of Filipino Students before moving to the Philippines to work as a paralegal and human rights advocate.

District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, who visited Lee in the Philippines in August, said Lee is believed to be the first U.S. citizen targeted in an extra-judicial assassination attempt by the armed forces of the Philippines under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Mar says an important component of Lee’s continued recovery will be permanent housing for him, his wife and daughter.

“We know here in San Francisco we’re in an extreme housing crisis that’s probably going to get a lot worse with the current health pandemic and growing economic crisis, and we cannot rely on the city’s below market rate lottery system,” Mar said.

Lee’s family has been placed number 5,702 in the city’s below market rate housing lottery, according to Mar.

In September, Lee’s family and supporters filed a case with the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights asking for an investigation into Lee’s shooting. They say they have yet to receive an update.


Listen to The Bay's previous coverage of Brandon Lee here.  Subscribe to The Bay to hear more local, Bay Area stories like this one. New episodes are released Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3 a.m.  Find The Bay on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher, NPR One, or via Alexa.

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