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Making sure ‘brothers and sisters’ attain real jobs and contracts on Alice Griffith Housing Development Project

November 3, 2017

by Lin Daly Robertson, The Labor Compliance Managers

Labor Compliance Managers and their trainees who helped develop this HUD Section 3 forum are, from left, Lin Robertson, PS-JTOP teacher; Etta Jones, student; Maloloto Tea, student; Prince Hallowell, staff at the SFPUC Contractors Assistance Center; Demarco Holmes, student; Su Kari Dutye, student kneeling on left side; and Charanita Banks, student kneeling on right side. – Photo: Labor Compliance Managers

San Francisco – On Oct. 20, 2017, The Labor Compliance Managers, pictured here with participating trainees who helped facilitate the event, worked in partnership with HUD to coordinate an educational forum hosted at the SFPUC’s Contractors Assistance Center.

HUD comes back to the Bayview

It was April 28, 2010, when I met Dr. Espanola Jackson, a community leader in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point. That day she talked to me about faith, hope and – above all – service. Espanola was clear. She wanted change, and she wanted it now. Too many in her community were without jobs, despite the vast number of construction projects evident all over the City.

She never gave up. And because of people like Espanola, today San Francisco has a local hire mandate that was approved in December of 2010, as well as other City policies that strive to bring equity and inclusion to under-represented communities throughout San Francisco, including Bayview Hunters Point.

Still, Espanola was not finished. When I mentioned to her that HUD had a Section 3 hiring policy since 1968 that was intended for the very community she was fighting for, she insisted that I introduce her to a representative of HUD in San Francisco, Ms. Irenis Green. I did as requested immediately, and before you knew it, Espanola organized a forum at her church, the Grace Tabernacle Community Church on Oakdale Avenue. Well over 100 people showed up for that event on Feb. 23, 2011. Questions were many, and HUD was there to answer them.

Espanola Jackson, beloved “Mother of Bayview Hunters Point,” speaks out in Mendell Plaza, supported by community filmmaker and activist Kilo Perry and DeBray “Fly Benzo” Carpenter, a contractor like his parents. Espanola and Kilo have now joined the ancestors. Back then, in 2010, Mendell Plaza was still the Bayview Hunters Point town square, where people were free to speak their minds, before City Hall made it a “No Fly” zone, fearful of the political activism of Fly Benzo and his comrades.

Five years later, Espanola passed away on Jan. 26, 2016. Yet still, her impact continues. HUD did not forget Espanola or the contractors and job seekers they met when they were called to the Grace Tabernacle Community Church in 2011. Without hesitation, HUD agreed to come back to the Bayview last week Friday, to bring information about new Section 3 initiatives, apprenticeship training opportunities and Davis-Bacon enforcement procedures. This time the event was held at the SFPUC’s Contractors Assistance Center (Center), with a full agenda that included a continental breakfast, a complimentary brown bag lunch, as well as Q&A town-hall style.

The Center, located at 150 Executive Park Blvd. in Bayview Hunters Point, is a vital resource for small businesses seeking to do business with the City. The Center provides professional service firms, construction companies, vendors and suppliers with a dynamic range of services and free resources, including technical assistance, classroom trainings, networking events and even one-on-one counseling.

Local and small businesses are encouraged to visit the Center to take advantage of these tools, which are provided to help navigate, adequately get access to, compete for, and perform on City projects as it invests billions of dollars to build and strengthen its infrastructure, neighborhoods, commercial corridors and the San Francisco workforce.

Eager for opportunities to make their families and community thrive, Bayview Hunters Point turned out in force and listened intently to learn how an old civil rights era law, Section 3, can help them get jobs and contracts on HUD-financed projects like the rebuilding of Alice Griffith. In the foreground is Kevin Williams, who spent his career as senior compliance officer with the SF Human Rights Commission, fighting valiantly for Black workers and contractors. – Photo: Labor Compliance Managers

As was the case in 1968, San Francisco serves again as a Model City, in which local hire and small business development is not just “good faith efforts” in name only. Ms. Green and her colleagues, Nathanael R. Hill (HUD) and Harry Dispensa (USDOL), presented a checklist mapping out how everyone from housing authorities to Indian reservations should collaborate with the Feds to achieve local success.

They also came to the forum to learn about how Isaac Dozier (Urban Strategies) and Samuel Adams (Baines Group Inc.) tag teamed to make sure “brothers and sisters” attained real jobs and contracting opportunities on their watch, i.e. at the Alice Griffith Housing Development Project.

Masood Ordikhani, director of the SFPUC’s Workforce and Economic Programs, welcomed the event participants to the Center and highlighted the SFPUC’s commitment to innovative strategies that seek to address some of the most challenging issues that confront our least served and resourced communities and populations in San Francisco.

He appealed to folks in the audience, or who are in a position to support these communities, to model these programs in their own communities and to leverage their resources to maximize and scale these pilot programs for the long-term. His message revealed a commitment that was riveting. The audience sat on the edge of their seats. You could hear a pin drop.

When Masood Ordikhani, director of the SFPUC Workforce and Economic Programs, delivered the welcome and encouraged participants to make the opportunities in Section 3 transform neighborhood after neighborhood, the audience paid rapt attention. You could hear a pin drop. – Photo: Labor Compliance Managers

And during the lunch break, a video of Kevin Williams explained how federal Section 3 policies were the direct result of social activism initiated in the Bayview Hunters Point community during the civil rights era. Williams described how community advocacy and leadership by people like his mother, Ruth Williams, as well as other legends among the “Big Five” – Elouise Westbrook, Ethel Garlington, Vera Clanton and Espanola Jackson – continue to impact their community today. Because of their hard work, San Francisco functions as an “envision center” where the theme “Making it Work in the Community” is clearly more than just lip service.

The Center rocked, as Section 3 trainees demonstrated that they were not to be underestimated. They planned, prepared and delivered a professional forum that provided clues about how public-private partnerships can produce results, i.e. local job readiness, apprenticeship and business development. With their help, HUD was able to come back home to the Bayview and provide much needed training to an audience that remained engaged. Excellent work, team!

The trainees and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Contractors Assistance Center for helping us with this project. We believe that knowledge about HUD’s Section 3 and Davis-Bacon compliance requirements can make a real difference in targeted communities not only in San Francisco, but also throughout the USA.

Lin Daly Robertson, who founded and heads The Labor Compliance Managers, can be reached at lin.tlcm@gmail.com.

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