by Natalia Kresich
On Friday, March 18, residents of Midtown Park Apartments, Cultural Action Network, ACCE Action and a number of allies attempted to close down two banks that they believe are directly connected to current tenant displacement in the Mission, Fillmore-Western Addition and Bayview through evictions and predatory-lending foreclosures. In addition to closing down two Chase and US Bank locations, they also delivered petitions for those banks to pledge to divest from investments and practices that result in displacement of long-time San Franciscans.
“This shows a clear violation of these banks Community Reinvestment Act requirements! There are many factors to the displacement and affordable housing crisis,” said Bayview pastor and community leader Yul Dorn, “but the same banks who sold the Black community terrible loans and cost us a generation of lost wealth are the same bad actors profiting off the City’s affordable housing crisis.”
Earlier this year, Chase Bank was a primary target in the Bayview community when Pastor Yul Dorn, long time Bayview resident and foreclosure victim, and his family were evicted from their home of 20 years after a seven-year fight with Chase bank. At the height of the mortgage crisis in 2008 and 2009, Chase Bank misapplied Pastor Dorn’s mortgage payments, failed to fix their mistake and forced him to apply for loan modifications that they then rejected.
When they foreclosed on him last year, investor Quan He bought the property and refused to negotiate. Supporters and Pastor Yul Dorn refused to leave until five sheriff’s deputies evicted them and arrested Pastor Dorn and three supporters.
However, foreclosures are only one way that Chase uses to get a return on their investments. Several Mission-based community groups have continued to actively oppose the building of luxury developments.
Activists with Cultural Action Network, in conjunction with other Mission groups, have been targeting the 2000-2070 Bryant St. “Beast on Bryant” development and its developer Nick Podell. One of the major investors in the Bryant development is Junius Real Estate Investments, a unit of JP Morgan Chase, specializing in “high risk, high yield real estate investments.”
“We’re calling on Wall Street to invest in truly affordable housing and be a part of the solution. They need to stop speculating in our neighborhoods,” says Spike Khan, activist with Cultural Action Network and Mission resident who is helping to lead the campaign against the Beast on Bryant. “They need to stop trying to get their profits from the displacement and evictions of long time San Franciscans.”
The Save Midtown group is also taking aim at banks that are contributing to their displacement. Midtown residents have been actively fighting Mercy Housing, the nonprofit housing development agency hired by the City to manage Midtown.
In response to threats of unlawful rent increases and evictions as well as tenant harrassment, Midtown residents are currently engaged in the longest-running rent strike in the City’s history. US Bank is a national corporate sponsor of Mercy Housing.
“US Bank and other banks, by funding Mercy Housing, are directly contributing to the demolition and wholesale displacement of an apartment complex of residents that survived Fillmore-Western Addition Redevelopment,” says Jay Majitov, Midtown resident. “If Mercy Housing won’t listen and accede to our demands for our right to self-management and self-determination, we are going to go after who funds them.”
Pastor Yul Dorn, who has been out of his home for the last month two months, is still determined to hold Chase accountable for his foreclosure. “This isn’t just about me and my family. This is about justice,” says Pastor Dorn.
“We are losing families because banks won’t fix their mistakes. They were bailed out of a crisis that devastated the Black and Brown community. And now they are using that profit to displace more families. I’m going to keep on fighting until Chase comes to the table and gets me back in my home.”
Natalia Kresich and Midtown can be reached at email@example.com.