The False Promise of Privatization and the Fight to Save Public Housing at Mildred Hailey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday October 27th, 2021.

Mildred Hailey residents protest the BHA’s mismanagement on August 30th.

On September 21, we put out a press release titled “Mildred C. Hailey Residents Organize Against Neglect and Demand Repairs”, exposing the extreme neglect and hazardous conditions which Mildred Hailey residents are facing. The Mildred Hailey Committee Against Displacement compiled letters and photographs from 19 residents—just a small sampling of the widespread problems in Mildred Hailey Apartments and in public housing more broadly. We also revealed how the corruption and incompetence of the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) are tied in with the government’s abandonment of public housing nationwide and their plans to give it away to private managers.

In response to our pressure campaigns, BHA has dispatched a slew of officials and inspectors to run around the project, promise repairs, accuse us of lying, and talk down to residents while sidestepping the truth.1 These officials have expressed hypocritical horror at the conditions in the apartments and have promised accountability, as if these problems were not the result of the policies and work culture that are dictated by these very officials!

Many residents have had repairs made in response to issues mentioned in the letters, and some who did not write letters have also suddenly had long-ignored work orders at least partially addressed as a result of the pressure on BHA. This is a small but significant victory in the movement to stop the deterioration and privatization of public housing. But at the same time, things at Mildred C. Hailey haven’t changed much in the last few weeks. Most apartments still have water and gas leaks, mold, rats, cockroaches, broken doors, and more. Management still bullies and silences tenants who ask for repairs, and BHA staff have even tried to intimidate a few of the residents who wrote letters. Although BHA brags about the thousands of work orders they’ve “completed” this year, management continues to mark work orders as closed that aren’t finished or were never started, and cover up problems like mold and leaks rather than truly fixing them.

Leaks and moisture problems all over the project result in recurring mold, rust, and damage to residents’ belongings.

The BHA is gravely endangering residents with the conditions they’re forced to live in. Even if we just look at the mold that’s living inside the walls and the ceilings, serious respiratory harm is being caused to adults and children, many of whom already have asthma. It shouldn’t be surprising that in a similar public housing system in New York City, Covid-19 deaths were shown to be almost TWICE as high among public housing residents as compared to the general population.2 This is what racism and abuse of the working class truly look like in our society today.

It is clear what’s going on in public housing projects like Mildred C. Hailey. Politicians and bureaucrats at all levels of government are conspiring to appease real-estate interests and put public housing on the chopping block. At the federal level, Congress knowingly underfunds the Public Housing program, while at the local level Housing Authorities like BHA engage in systematic patterns of incompetence and willful negligence. HUD and Congress then cook up all sorts of schemes to destroy and privatize public housing, schemes which they present as the solution to the problems they themselves created and which housing authorities cheerfully implement and developers happily feast upon.

Work orders are regularly left half finished, like this bedroom where the door was removed and never replaced.

BHA’s Claims on Privatization

BHA claims that privatization3 will solve the problems which they’ve created in public housing. They claim it will greatly improve conditions while guaranteeing “permanent affordability forever” by virtue of BHA’s continued ownership of the land and the “one-for-one” replacement of the demolished public housing units. This is just a bunch of misleading phraseology cooked up by HUD, the developers, and housing authorities, based on bad-faith definitions and outright lies. In particular:

  1. The term “one for one replacement” is misleading. The redevelopment plan at Mildred Hailey involves replacing 253 public housing (or “Section 9”) units with a different kind of subsidized unit referred to as Project-Based Section 8 (this being different from the mobile Section 8 vouchers that allow residents to move between mobile voucher-accepting buildings). Despite what BHA and its developer partners like to claim, this is not the same as public housing. Even if the same number of units are built (“one-for-one”), it does involve a major change in how the housing is administered: private companies own and manage buildings, set their own rules, and generally are more aggressive than the housing authorities in pursuing evictions.
  1. Affordability is not truly “guaranteed, forever.” The regulations for Project Based Section 8 are much looser than for units under public housing, especially when it comes to any sense of “permanency.” From the federal regulations4 down to the specific local contracts that housing authorities sign with new private owners5, there are all sorts of loopholes6 that allow Section 8 units to lose their subsidy and become unaffordable to most if not all working people. It is simply false that there is no way for Section 8 units to become deregulated or even become market rate.
  1. One-for-one replacement’ is accompanied by the addition of more expensive units which will gentrify the neighborhood and jeopardize affordability in the long term. Originally, BHA and the developers explicitly planned to include market-rate units alongside so-called “affordable” units, in which the rent is set according to a percentage of the Area Median Income (AMI) rather than based on the tenant’s income.7 When they scrapped the market-rate units, they replaced them with plans for 170 outrageously expensive units at a rate deemed “affordable” for tenants making 175% of AMI, or about 150K for a 1-person household. For perspective, the “affordable” rent at the 175% AMI level is around $3,600/month for a 1-bedroom!

    After significant push back, they changed the unit mix to include units ‘only’ up to 120% of the AMI, which comes with rent of $2,467/month for a 1-bed.8 But in any case, the developers’ plans for Mildred Hailey still say that the actual final rent/income levels for the new units are “subject to financial feasibility”— hence, if they determine that the unit mix is not “financially feasible”, they can and would most likely revert to their original plan for market rate units or units at 175% of AMI.9 But, no fear! They claim other apartments will be “affordable” at 50-80% AMI. This too, is a false promise: the rents at those levels range from $987 to $1622 per month for a 1-bed, which are in fact affordable only to a minority of working people and people who live in public housing, not all—and vitally, these rents do not change if household income decreases.10

Overall, this set up would clearly worsen gentrification of the whole neighborhood immediately by adding in more expensive apartments, and set the stage for even more intense gentrification over the long term. This gentrifying scheme, like any other, does mean displacement sooner or later. But what about immediate displacement during the redevelopment? It is certainly possible for them not to immediately kick out a large portion of residents during the redevelopment itself. But the fact is, government and developer promises of a “right to return” are flimsy at best. People displaced during Urban Renewal still have pieces of paper promising them their ‘right to return.’ And during the privatizations, the ‘right to return’ is always conditioned on ‘good standing’ as BHA itself says. Some tenants have fallen behind on rent because of expenses related to BHA’s shoddy maintenance: replacing furniture, clothes, food, etc. ruined by the leaks, rodents, and cockroaches. Others lost income during the pandemic or had to take care of medical expenses, or have had fake accusations of back rent or lease violations made up by housing in order to bully them. Already, BHA threatens such residents with eviction and harasses them. So why should we believe BHA’s oversight over the new owners of the units will in fact protect such residents?

It should be clear to all that this is an attack on the social safety net, and a land and money grab by the private sector. It’s time to see past the lies and disinformation put forward by BHA, HUD, Congress, and their developer friends, and to fight to preserve public housing for the sake of our families, our neighbors, and the future generations.

—The United Front Against Displacement

1 https://twitter.com/TheUfad/status/1451624823076052996 https://twitter.com/BHA_Boston/status/1440431786480181253

2 https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2021/09/15/nycha-covid-death-numbers/

3 BHA officials insist ‘privatization’ is inaccurate. But even the developer JPNDC described (up until October 22, 2021) what BHA and developers are doing across Boston as a “privatization process,” because it quite obviously is exactly that.  See http://web.archive.org/web/20211021031704/https://jpndc.org/mildred-c-hailey-apartments-redevelopment/

4 See the following HUD guide, which states “The traditional PBV program also allows for the removal of units from a PBV HAP contract:” https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/Housing/documents/RAD_PBV_QUICK_REFERENCE_GUIDE_2020.pdf

5 A useful example is the Use Agreement for Lenox St. in Boston which can be found online in the Suffolk registry of deeds, at https://www.masslandrecords.com/Suffolk/. This Use Agreement makes it clear section 8 renewal is not totally guaranteed, and even contains a paragraph for what happens in the event section 8 no longer applies. In that case, the only remaining requirement for “affordability” is that rents not be above 30% of 80% AMI. Currently 80%AMI for family of 4 is $96650, and 30% of that comes out to $2416/month—hardly affordable for most working families of 4 in Boston.

6 In fact, HUD can allow units to be taken out of all the affordability restrictions in a Use Agreement if the owners can show the development is not “financially viable” under those restrictions. See this example from NYC: https://fightfornycha.org/2020/11/24/for-immediate-release-rad-landlords-can-ask-hud-to-deregulate-public-housing-apartments/

7 See pg.71 of: https://www.bostonhousing.org/BHA/media/Documents/Annual%20Plan/annual%20plan%202021/ma002a01-Supplement.pdf

8 https://jpndc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Affordability-Questioned-at-Mildred-Hailey-Apts-4-8-21.pdf

9 See pg. 9 of https://bpda.app.box.com/s/1uyo1p7de02nbtxeq4n214yq2ay7trc7.

10 See the following article by Defend Glendale & Public Housing Coalition on AMI. Though the article is focused on the Twin Cities, it applies equally well to Boston and any other city in the country. https://www.dgphc.org/2021/10/23/ami-goes-up-and-so-does-rent/

Sunnydale and Potrero Hill Residents Organize to Expose San Francisco Housing Authority Neglect, Demand Repairs and Halt to Privatization

Residents from Sunnydale and Potrero Hill collectively wrote letters to SFHA demanding their units be repaired and maintained after being neglected by SFHA for years
In one resident’s apartment at Sunnydale, there is mold on the ceiling and one of the children has asthma. There is no oven door. For 9 months when the family uses the kitchen sink, the pipe leaks into the cabinet below. There is a bedbug infestation and SFHA said they would send an exterminator, which they have not.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday October 21st, 2021.

Sunnydale and Potrero Hill Residents Organize to Expose Neglect and Demand Repairs

For years, the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) has engaged in a consistent and extreme pattern of willful negligence of its properties, irresponsibly forcing residents to inhabit dangerous apartments which have major mold problems, pest infestations, and the like. Residents at Sunnydale and Potrero Hill, the two remaining public housing developments in San Francisco, are fed up with SFHA’s inaction and excuses. Residents are organizing with their neighbors to stand together and demand that their apartments and buildings be repaired, while remaining public housing and not handed over to private developers and management companies.

SFHA is required to provide its tenants with apartments that meet a minimum standard for cleanliness and habitability as defined in California Civil Code Section 1941.1. Enclosed are a series of letters and photos of conditions at Sunnydale and Potrero Hill showing that SFHA is consistently failing to meet these requirements. Many tenants have filed dozens of work orders and complaints about these problems, only to face disrespect and inaction from SFHA managers. There is no possible conclusion we can draw other than that SFHA let these properties fall into disrepair in order to justify its privatization and HOPE SF redevelopment schemes, and plans to continue doing so.

SFHA and their developer partners portray privatization as the best solution to the capital needs of public housing and therefore the best way to address SFHA properties’ state of disrepair. In reality, this is a bait-and-switch. When private developers and management companies take over, they have a million ways to officially and unofficially displace many of the residents: requiring tenants to re-apply and qualify to return, new and unreasonable rules, botched relocations, mass evictions, and more. And even when privatizations do not lead to immediate mass displacement, they set the stage for such displacement over the longer term by replacing public housing with combinations of non-subsidized, often extremely expensive units and Section 8.

The HOPE SF redevelopment scheme threatens to eventually demolish all the buildings at Sunnydale and Potrero Hill so that developers Mercy Housing, Related California, and BRIDGE Housing can build “mixed income developments” including over a thousand market rate units. In the interim, SFHA plans to hand over all the buildings at the two properties to the Eugene Burger Management Corporation via an “accelerated disposition” by the end of 2022, starting with hundreds of units being privatized this December. This would eliminate the remaining public housing in the city.

Through these privatization schemes in San Francisco and across the country, huge amounts of wealth are passing from public to private hands. Developers and management companies get access to huge pieces of prime real estate which they can then redevelop to bring in higher-paying tenants and gentrify the neighborhood. They also get tax breaks in the form of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, and a massive direct subsidy from Section 8 vouchers paid by the federal government. This is nothing but corporate loot and plunder, carried out at the expense of public housing residents who are expected to put up with worsening neglect in the meantime.

The United Front Against Displacement stands with the tenants at Sunnydale and Potrero Hill who have decided to speak out about the conditions they are being forced to live in. SFHA must immediately make arrangements to fix these issues. This must be done without giving the properties over to private companies, which residents have been organizing to oppose, and ensure that residents retain their public housing leases with SFHA.

Arrangements to address these issues include but are not limited to:

  • Properly remediating mold (not by painting over it as seems to be acceptable to SFHA), lead, and other health hazards present in numerous SFHA apartments and addressing the root causes (leaky roofs and plumbing issues, for instance) of these problems.
  • Thoroughly addressing pest infestations, including mice, rats, cockroaches, and bedbugs.
  • Making necessary repairs within apartments as well as common areas, including but not limited to fixing broken or missing locks, doors, windows, and cabinets.
  • Arranging and promptly following through on apartment transfers for tenants who are under- housed and/or living in dangerous conditions, many of whom have been waiting for years. We demand the prompt resolution of the egregious issues documented here, as well as broader action to address the similar issues faced by the majority of SFHA residents which are threatening their health and livelihoods.


For media inquiries, email us at wewontgo@riseup.net or call us at 510-815-9978.

Videos from October 18th San Francisco City Hall: Sunnydale and Potrero Hill residents protest HOPE SF redevelopment and privatization

On Monday, October 18th, Sunnydale and Potrero Hill residents held a protest at San Francisco City Hall to oppose the HOPE SF redevelopment, the privatization of public housing by the Eugene Burger Management Corporation, longterm neglect by the San Francisco Housing Authority, and the discrimination of mixed status families.

This protest followed a protest held at Sunnydale on October 15th at a new Mercy Housing development built on the site of demolished Sunnydale units. Police had blocked residents from entering as San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge held a press conference and tour of the latest Mercy Housing development built as a part of the HOPE SF redevelopment plan.

Videos of speeches from October 18th can be found below:

Sunnydale Public Housing Tenants hold protest against HOPE SF redevelopment, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Mayor London Breed: October 15th, 2021

Videos on Twitter

On Friday, October 15th, residents of the Sunnydale public housing development in San Francisco held a protest at a new Mercy Housing development built on the site of demolished Sunnydale units. San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge held a press conference and tour of the latest Mercy Housing development built as a part of the HOPE SF redevelopment plan. This press event and tour was organized by the politicians and San Francisco Housing Authority in secret, without informing residents. Once the word spread that politicians had come to Sunnydale to do a photo op, tenants organized a protest. When residents tried to enter where the politicians were touring the Mercy Housing building, the San Francisco Police Department barred them from entering. SFPD told tenants that they could not enter because the building was a “construction site” and that it was private property. The politicians and reporters had entered just moments before, but residents voicing concerns about what was happening to their own homes were deemed irrelevant.

While police were keeping residents out of the press event, Pelosi said, “And just viewing this project at Sunnydale, it’s about respect. Respect for the tenants – they are the VIPs. We’re here to speak, but they are the VIPs, whose needs we’re here to meet and to meet in a way that is respectful […] I say this because it is a model for the country. It is a model for the country to see how San Francisco deals with this […] to see that they are treated with respect by housing that meets their needs in a way that they had some say in putting together and everything that goes with it.”

In Sunnydale public housing, tenants have leases with the San Francisco Housing Authority, have front and back doors, gardens, washers and dryers in each unit, and are not charged for utilities. Mercy Housing developed the “Casala” building at Sunnydale and Hahn which opened in 2019. In the conversion from public to private leases, tenants have fewer legal protections than in public housing, and the stability of public housing is replaced with Project Based Section 8 Vouchers that residents lose if they move, meaning that they lose their subsidy. Tenants who moved to Mercy’s Casala building from Sunnydale public housing units have been charged upwards of $140 for utilities, have to share washers and dryers, and Mercy Housing imposes restrictive rules about how people can live and who can visit.

Tenants say the Casala building was cheaply constructed, that one resident’s ceiling started leaking when her upstairs neighbor took a shower, and that maintenance is neglected. Mixed immigration status families have been told they will not qualify for any subsidy in the Mercy Housing buildings, meaning they will pay thousands of dollars for rent. The new Mercy Housing building that Pelosi, Fudge, and Breed toured will have 167 units, 3 times the size of Casala. The building is slated to open in November, and many residents have resisted as SFHA and Mercy Housing employees have pressured them in recent months to sign leases to move there.

The contradiction between what the politicians say and what the people say couldn’t be clearer. While Pelosi touts HOPE SF as a model for the country, the residents she called “VIPs” were being barred from entering by the police just down the block. The truth is that the politicians and developers are afraid of people knowing what’s actually going on and organizing to stop it. When Pelosi says the HOPE SF redevelopment is the model for the country, what she means is it’s the model of how to destroy public housing and displace residents, all to line the pockets of the housing developers. But residents refused to let the politicians use the redevelopment at Sunnydale to further the national plan by HUD, Congress, the big banks and the developers of privatizing public housing.

Sunnydale resident Raymunda said at the protest: “We are speaking out and we cannot run because we have children. We cannot walk the streets in fear and we will not sleep on the streets. Another thing, these people in the office won’t pick up the trash but want our rent. They treat us bad because we have less but we are good people, dignified people and we deserve to be treated well by these managers. We will not leave, we will fight. We will not be thrown onto the street with our children we will defend our rights as people. We will not leave. We will not surrender.”

Andres said: “There’s real crime in the city going on. Not this. We’re all residents, we live here. Who’s asking the questions inside? They don’t want to hear from the real people. The millionaires in there are just conspiring and evict us, trying to eliminate Section 9 [public housing].”

Sunnydale and Potrero Hill are the two remaining public housing developments in the city after SFHA privatized all other public housing in recent decades, leading to people being displaced and pushed out of the city. HOPE SF, created by governor Gavin Newsom when he was the mayor of San Francisco, is a plan to demolish public housing and replace it with “mixed income developments” of luxury condos for the rich and cheap “replacement” units for current residents.

The total disregard for residents was also exemplified by employees of the San Francisco Housing Authority and HOPE SF. SFHA Executive Director Tonia Lediju, SFHA Director of Public Housing Kendra Crawford, and HOPE SF employee Elizabeth Chilton all ignored residents protesting when they walked out of the press conference. They went so far as to say that none of the people at the protest even lived at Sunnydale. In the past, SFHA, Mayor Breed, and Mercy Housing ignored a petition signed by 100 Sunnydale residents sent in February, and the Mayor’s Office for Housing and Community Development ignored a letter from Sunnydale Tenant Association president Shelly Leonard in 2019.

Tenants at Sunnydale and Potrero Hill have continued to organize against the HOPE SF redevelopment, and to demand SFHA repair buildings after neglecting them for years. Tenants are holding another protest this Monday, October 18th at 4:30pm at San Francisco City Hall (press release).

Videos from the October 15th protest can be found on Twitter.

The United Front Against Displacement

510-815-9978 – wewontgo@riseup.net – theufad.org – @theUFAD

TWITTER THREAD:

Today Sunnydale residents protested the @HOPESFCOMMUNITY destruction of their homes to build luxury condos outside a new @mercyhousing building. @SpeakerPelosi, @SecFudge and @LondonBreed held a press conference that no residents were informed about. Police refused to let us in.

After police stopped residents from entering the press conference, Pola, who has lived at Sunnydale for 16 years, says residents have the right to protest and organize as low income residents who have lived there for years.

Raymunda, a resident of Sunnydale: “We are speaking out and we cannot run because we have children. We cannot walk the streets in fear and we will not sleep on the streets. These people in the office won’t pick up the trash but want our rent.”

Raymunda: “They treat us bad because we have less but we are good people, dignified people and we deserve to be treated well by these managers. We will not leave, we will fight. We will not be thrown onto the street with our children, we will defend our rights as people.”

There’s real crime happening in San Francisco but the police are keeping residents out and protecting the rich developers and politicians who conspire to evict residents and eliminate Section 9 public housing. #Sunnydale

After letting @SpeakerPelosi @SecFudge @LondonBreed @RepBarbaraLee enter the @mercyhousing building on the site of demolished public housing units at Sunnydale, police stopped residents from entering, saying it was a construction zone and private property.

Marching to another entrance to the @mercyhousing building where politicians, developers, and San Francisco Housing Authority employees were leaving after the press conference and police continued to refuse to let residents in

San Francisco Housing Authority Executive Director Tonia Lediju and Director of Public Housing Kendra Crawford refuse to look at Sunnydale residents as they protest. They walk away and Kendra lies and says they’re not residents

Elizabeth Chilton works with @HOPESFCOMMUNITY to push people out of their homes in public housing and into private developments. She ignored residents at the protest. Recently she told someone that if people refuse to leave their homes they’ll be violently removed by the sheriffs

Today, Sunnydale residents came together and exposed how the @HOPESFCOMMUNITY privatization and development serves the politicians and developers, not the residents. Today was a part of the struggle against #gentrification and displacement in San Francisco and across the country

Originally tweeted by the United Front Against Displacement (@TheUfad) on October 15, 2021.

Press Release: Sunnydale and Potrero Hill Tenants will Protest at San Francisco City Hall on Monday October 18th

For immediate release
Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Tenants of Sunnydale and Potrero Hill with the United Front Against Displacement
Phone: 510-815-9978
Email: wewontgo@riseup.net 

This Monday, October 18th at 4:30pm, tenants of Sunnydale and Potrero Hill public housing in San Francisco are holding a protest at San Francisco City Hall. Tenants are protesting the city government and San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA)’s plan to eliminate the remaining public housing in the city by transferring management to a private landlord, the Eugene Burger Management Corporation (EMBC), starting this December. At the same time, the city’s HOPE SF privatization scheme plans to continue destroying all the buildings and displacing residents to allow developers Mercy Housing, Related California, and BRIDGE Housing to build luxury condos on the land.

After decades of corruption and neglect of Sunnydale and Potrero Hill, forcing residents to live with black mold, pests, rodents, and open sewage, SFHA is evading all responsibility. SFHA sent hundreds of households at Sunnydale and Potrero Hill 90-day notices in September that their public housing leases would be terminated to allow the EBMC to take over in what is referred to in SFHA documents as “accelerated disposition”. Under a private landlord, residents will have fewer rights, be more likely to be evicted, and have to pay more. The stability of public housing will be replaced with a Project Based Section 8 Vouchers that residents cannot take with them if they move, meaning that they will lose their subsidy. SFHA’s story of EBMC taking over to improve conditions is a lie, because residents of other EBMC developments in San Francisco and other cities in California have attested to how EBMC neglects its properties and harasses tenants.  

The HOPE SF website claims that “resident voice and vision drives decisions,” but HOPE SF and Mayor London Breed have ignored residents’ objections. SFHA and the developers have recently threatened residents that they will be homeless if they do not comply with the privatization. This Monday’s protest is part of an ongoing movement at Sunnydale and Potrero Hill against the SFHA and city politicians making residents’ lives worse to let developers make a profit. Tenants have held protests, delivered a petition, and are demanding SFHA keep their leases and immediately do necessary repairs. 

The privatization of public housing is gentrification. All the other SFHA public housing developments in San Francisco have been privatized in recent decades, which has led to people being displaced, pushed out of the city entirely, and becoming homeless. This is happening across the country, and this protest is a part of a national movement with tenants organizing in New York City, Boston, Dallas, and Minneapolis. 

Update on the struggle at Sunnydale: Residents Protest HOPE SF Privatization Outside SFHA Office on September 18th, 2021  

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.” 

Oaklanders Are Speaking Out and Exposing OHA’s Lies

Last Saturday a group of activists and residents of Oakland public housing presented a petition and a series of letters written by tenants demanding repairs for neglected public housing units to the Oakland Housing Authority. 

The petition was posted just outside the OHA’s downtown office.

The UFAD had met with over a dozen households with serious rat and mold infestations in recent weeks and tenants are demand immediate relief and transfers to safer housing. Tenants have reported being ignored by OHA in some cases for years. This isnt the first time that public housing tenants have demanded that OHA take action. Earlier this year, over 90 residents at Cypress Village signed onto a petition demanding that the Housing Authority improve maintenance. The UFAD protested outside the West Oakland office. This forced OHA to respond to several overdue maintenance issues and relocated a resident who had severe mold in her apartment after years of OHA just painting over it. 

Janis Cannon, a Lockwood resident has had a rodent infestation for almost 5 years and so far OHA has ignored her request to be transferred to a habitable unit.

While the petition had some successes, it was important to keep fighting, especially since the increased maintenance did almost nothing to improve conditions inside the units. As one person said while delivering the petition said, “OHA acts like just because it’s low income housing that means you have to treat people like low income. Treat them worse.” 

The letter campaign was inspired in part by a similar campaign taken up by UFAD Boston which has the Boston Housing Authority scrambling to respond. Housing Authorities often push the idea that residents just need to call the maintenance line and wait their turn. Work orders often don’t get completed or are completed so inadequately just so the housing authority can check off a box without addressing any real issue. One online comment on the Boston Housing Authority’s press release simply stated, “pictures don’t lie”.

When we emailed OHA the first batch of letters, we sent it to the entire executive board and the property administrators. We received only one response: an automated out of office email dated from 2016. This just shows the level of disrespect and disregard OHA has for its residents and properties. 

This disregard is not an accident. One sign posted to the OHA office stated: “OHA intentionally neglects its properties”. As we wrote in issue 1 of People of the Bay, OHA does have a plan to eliminate public housing by running down the properties to justify privatization in the future. 

We will continue to keep fighting for public housing and struggling against those who want to force the poor and working class to live in awful conditions. As one resident at the event said, “We need you to join the fight. It takes all of us.”

Notes on the Struggle in Chinatown

source https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FATASmTUcAw2X0f?format=png&name=small

Recently, members of the UFAD joined several protests against MOCA (Museum of Chinese in America) organized by the Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association, Youth Against Displacement, the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side, and a few other groups. On September 26, several hundred protesters marched through Chinatown and assembled in front of the museum, urging visitors to join the ongoing boycott and picket.

The protest focused on efforts to co-opt struggles by highlighting so-called cultural leaders and related institutions that make room for displacement on an epic scale. In this case, displacement was heavily abetted by museum board co-chair and managing director of a large real estate consortium, Jonathan Chu, as well as Nancy Yao Maasbach, museum president and flunky of many corporate cabals including the Council of Foreign Relations, and Goldman Sachs.

At issue in particular is:

1) The museum’s decision to accept a “publicly-acceptable bribe,” a grant of millions in dollars in return for an agreement to endorse development in Chinatown, including a 29-story expansion to the Manhattan Detention Complex jail

2) Chu’s decision to close the Jing Fong Restaurant, the only unionized restaurant in Chinatown.

This mobilization deserves the careful attention and support from activists near and far. The blatant use of cultural representatives to sell-out the community is, for good reason, the square target of the protesters, some of whom called out the museum as the “Museum of Capitalist Asians.” The Democratic Party in particular has gone all-in on this strategy in recent years with its use of identity politics to push its real agenda, the furthering of the exploitative and racist agenda of the ruling elite. In the struggle against the privatization of public housing, in development after development, local representatives who will play ball with developers are promoted as “community leaders”, even if this means ignoring or suppressing regular elections and meetings. Banks promote NGOs to be the middlemen between their funding sources and the people, and the management authorities bring in the muscle to evict residents—in New York City this even includes the Legal Aid Society, which is on contract to represent the city’s plan to privatize developments under the RAD program.

When protesters target these community sell-outs, the system goes haywire. A petition “an appeal for healing” was drafted in defense of the Museum by the so-called progressive academics and cultural icons in the community urging protesters to stand down (similarly when UFAD protesters in San Francisco protested the demolition of public housing, local NGOs and city workers decried protesters as “causing trauma”). This week, the Daily News Editorial Board stated of protesters “They harass museum visitors and its staff. They beclown themselves and their cause.” The message of these academics, officials, and media representatives is the same—get in line and buy the corporate shit that our masters prepare for us—or get lost. The Museum is supposed to be a testament to a version of the American dream, telling how past Chinese-Americans suffered so we could enjoy “progress” today, but what progress does this amount to when Chinese-Americans and their neighbors are fired from their jobs and lose their housing and entire community. How chillingly fitting it is that a high-rise jail is built to support this “great cultural narrative.” As George Carlin stated, “That’s why they call it the American dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

source https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FATAWijVgAchqrU?format=jpg&name=4096×4096

TEACH-IN: PRIVATIZATION AND DISPLACEMENT- HARLEM RIVER HOUSES, FRIDAY, OCT 1, 5pm

 For months, RAD developers have tricked people into signing a lease despite the fact that HUD has not approved the new company from taking over Harlem River yet. This, along with ongoing mismanagement of the buildings, are a serious violations of tenants’ basic housing rights. 

 Join us, learn the FACTS about RAD and Privatization. Refreshments will be served. Keeping Our Apartments Depends on What We Know And Keeping in the Know!

 Join us, learn the FACTS about RAD and Privatization. Refreshments will be served.Keeping Our Apartments Depends on What We Know And Keeping in the Know

 Friday, October 1st, 5pm, Colonel Young Triangle Park

Educational Event Against RAD and Blueprint takeovers 

Protest at Sunnydale in San Francisco, Saturday September 18th at 2pm

On Saturday September 18 at 2pm, resident organizers from Sunnydale public housing and the United Front Against Displacement will convene a rally outside the local San Francisco Housing Authority office at 1654 Sunnydale Ave to denounce recent attempts to push out residents from their homes. At the end of August, SFHA informed dozens of families that they had to leave their homes by November 1 of this year or face eviction. These housing units are slated for demolition to clear the land for developers Mercy Housing and Related California to continue building a “mixed income development” under a city privatization scheme called HOPE SF.

SFHA is now trying to rid itself of management of the property well before the end of the HOPE SF redevelopment through a process called “accelerated disposition.” This plan will transfer all leases of remaining townhouses in Sunnydale and Potrero Hill to the control of the Eugene Burger Management Corporation, a private property management company, by September 2022.