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A Japanese Rosa Parks at King Garvey Co-Op?

June 11, 2009

by Carlos Levexier

King Garvey Co-op, home to 211 families in San Francisco’s historically Black Fillmore district, will be owned by its residents free and clear in 2019, unless corporate and government conspirators succeed in wrenching it away from them to complete the ethnic cleansing that drove out most Blacks decades ago from the neighborhood then known as “Harlem of the West.” – Photo: Frederic Larson, SF Chronicle
King Garvey Co-op, home to 211 families in San Francisco’s historically Black Fillmore district, will be owned by its residents free and clear in 2019, unless corporate and government conspirators succeed in wrenching it away from them to complete the ethnic cleansing that drove out most Blacks decades ago from the neighborhood then known as “Harlem of the West.” – Photo: Frederic Larson, SF Chronicle
The residents of Martin Luther King – Marcus Garvey Cooperative Square Apartments, Inc. (King Garvey Co-op), who are also the shareholders of this housing complex in San Francisco’s historically Black Fillmore district, known before redevelopment as “Harlem of the West,” are being intimidated into a fraudulent deal that would turn over nearly $100 million in their families’ assets to private developers with government connections.

Members of the King Garvey Co-op are in the enviable position of having purchased 211 units of housing for an average of less than $27,000 each in 1978. The incredible appreciation in real estate values has sent the value of their real estate upwards of $100,000,000 dollars, arguably more than $500,000 per family, on average, at the point of mortgage payoff in 2019.

Ms. Hideko Peters is probably the only Japanese-American shareholder at King Garvey Co-op. However, she is the one who is daring to take a bold though simple step: Ms. Hideko is staging a quiet protest against the “corporatocracy” that is intimidating the shareholders into moving out of the property that they have been paying off for over 30 years and handing their keys over to management agents representing the interests of private developers and their partners in government.

Ms. Hideko, a soft spoken elderly woman, received a demand letter from a relocation company insisting that all shareholders sign a memorandum of understanding which states they give their consent to be evicted if they do not move out of their unit when given the command. This brave woman has invited those who are resisting the termination of their mortgage and the threat of relocation to meet at her house when the relocation company representative is scheduled to visit her at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 11, to discuss this memorandum of understanding as a group.

Carlos Levexier, left, and Daniel Landry are leaders of King Garvey Co-op and national trailblazers in the struggle for affordable housing owned and controlled by low-income residents. They joined Caravan for Justice III to Sacramento on May 26 to press legislators for justice in housing and other issues critical to their community. – Photo: Francisco Da Consta
Carlos Levexier, left, and Daniel Landry are leaders of King Garvey Co-op and national trailblazers in the struggle for affordable housing owned and controlled by low-income residents. They joined Caravan for Justice III to Sacramento on May 26 to press legislators for justice in housing and other issues critical to their community. – Photo: Francisco Da Consta
Ms. Hideko’s cool, calm protest is reminiscent of Rosa Parks in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. King Garvey Co-op residents have paid nearly $13,000,000 on their 40-year mortgage loan, which was only $5,454,800 originally. Over $10,000,000 has gone to pay interest. But since the shareholders are in the last 10 years of their 40-year mortgage, more of their $36,093.86 monthly payments ($171 per unit) will now go towards the principal, reducing the mortgage balance to zero by November 2019.

Ms. Hideko and the shareholders against termination and relocation are correct. The shareholders must use unity and intelligence to protect their assets from entities who would steal them.

Carlos Levexier is the former president of the board of King Garvey Co-op. He can be reached at globallos@yahoo.com.

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