Residents of Sunnydale and supporters gathered on Saturday, September 18th in front of the San Francisco Housing Authority’s office at Sunnydale to protest the city’s HOPE SF redevelopment scheme backed by the big banks. HOPE SF threatens to eliminate public housing in San Francisco by demolishing the last two public housing developments, Sunnydale and Potrero Hill, over the next decade. This will allow big developers (Mercy Housing and Related California at Sunnydale, and BRIDGE Housing at Potrero Hill) to build luxury condos. Previous HOPE SF redevelopment phases at Sunnydale and Potrero Hill, as well at other developments Double Rock (Alice Griffith) and Hunters View, have displaced residents from their neighborhoods or the city entirely. Residents have fewer rights in the new Section 8 units than in public housing, and mixed immigration status families are forced to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more in rent.
After SFHA sent hundreds of residents notices to leave their homes by November 1st, to clear the way for demolition, residents and supporters organized the protest. Residents are forming a plan to defend their homes, fighting these 90-day notices. At the same time, SFHA wants to convert all the existing units at Sunnydale and Potrero Hill to Section 8 Project-Based Vouchers by September 2022, starting with hundreds of units by December 1st.
Residents of public and subsidized housing came together from Sunnydale, Bayview Hunters Point, and West Oakland, and residents organizing in Boston and New York City joined by phone. People made it clear that together they were going to fight to stop the developers and big banks from displacing any more working people.
Rita, a resident of Sunnydale of 50 years:
“What they are doing is not okay. They’re trying to trap us in these buildings. It ain’t nothing but a modern day slavery, like they did the Jews. They are trying to trap us in these apartments and control how we’re living, tell us when we can come and go, who we can have in our houses. They are doing it in my mom’s building over in Fillmore. You have to show ID to let anyone in your house. We can’t take nothing with us. They tell us how much clothing, how much furniture to put in the houses down there. So that’s not okay. We don’t want that. And it’s not just Sunnydale, it’s Potrero Hill, Hunters Point. We need to come out and fix this and do something about it. We can’t just sit around and wait until the last minute.”
Daniel from Sunnydale:
“We just don’t deserve this. Like Rita said, they just want to take everything from us. Some tenants are unaware of the hope that they actually have that we can make this change and stop it right where it’s at right now, before they throw up another building. We do have the power to stop that. If you don’t want to lose your place then you have an obligation to get out here and spread the word, and not just spread the word, but actually do something. I hope everyone can stay out here, stay consistent, stay on their necks, and never give up.”
Sue from Sunnydale:
“I’ve lived here for 14 years. Everyone knows what’s going on. This is our area, this is our home, we need to fight back, we need to come together. If we give up, we don’t do anything, you don’t have any choice later. They’re going to have a thousand families coming in, and we won’t have a parking spot. We need to come together.”
Mario Medina, a resident of the Mary Ellen McCormack projects and from the United Front Against Displacement branch in Boston
Mario recently won a transfer to a properly sized unit after the Boston Housing Authority made him and his family of four live in a one bedroom for 8 years. Mario called into the protest: “The Boston Housing Authority didn’t want to do anything with our family, until we worked with others to put pressure on them…We must keep fighting. We have each other. We cannot allow housing to be privatized. Don’t lose hope. Keep fighting, because we can win victories in the struggle. Just because I’ve won, I won’t stop fighting. The movement will keep growing, keep going, we’re all across the country.”
Craig from the Tenant Advocacy Team called in from Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York:
“You’re not alone Sunnydale, we’re with you. We can’t let these private developers come into Sunnydale and dictate how we’re going to live. We have to stand up in solidarity and unity and kick these developers out of our community.”
Residents posted signs on the doors of the SFHA office that read “Hell no, we wont go” and “Privatization is not for the people.”