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Response to ‘the real story of Midtown’ from tenants who also live there

April 14, 2018

by Pat Smith, Midtown resident since 1970, and the Midtown Tenants’ Association

The Midtown Tenants’ Association would like an opportunity to respond to the op-ed published in the BayView that discredits the struggle for equity and self-management that Midtown tenants have been engaged in over the past four years.

Making it plain that “Midtown is my home” are longtime residents Pat Smith and Mary Watkins at a hearing on housing.

As many readers of the BayView know, Midtown has a long history in the Western Addition. Built in 1967 as a replacement housing for those tenants and homeowners who lost their homes during the disaster of civic redevelopment, Midtown early on was promised a chance at equity ownership by the City of San Francisco.

Midtown enjoyed rent control for decades prior to the City’s termination of the lease with Midtown’s tenant association, the Midtown Park Corp., and the awarding of a lease for property management and development. Around the time that Midtown’s lease was awarded to Mercy Housing, the former head of the Mayor’s Office of Housing went to work as the head of Mercy Housing California, which raises a number of ethical and legal concerns.

The Midtown Tenants’ Association would like an opportunity to respond to the op-ed published in the BayView that discredits the struggle for equity and self-management that Midtown tenants have been engaged in over the past four years.

Contrary to what the op-ed claimed, living at Midtown under Mercy Housing is not “much better now.” Tenants now live under extremely restrictive “House Rules,” have experienced illegal entries into their apartments by Mercy employees, and generally have experienced zero accountability and responsiveness when it comes to addressing tenants’ concerns. And while Midtown tenants appreciate the need for strong Black leadership in San Francisco, Breed has yet to live up to this ideal with regards to support and advocacy for Midtown.

Tenants now live under extremely restrictive “House Rules,” have experienced illegal entries into their apartments by Mercy employees, and generally have experienced zero accountability and responsiveness when it comes to addressing tenants’ concerns.

For the past four years, Midtown tenants have engaged in a campaign for equity ownership and control over our historic homes. We have experienced broad support from the wider community concerned with gentrification and the displacement of Black and working class people from San Francisco. Midtown has also supported many other struggles, such as opposing the evictions of Iris Canada and the Church of St. John Coltrane, also in the Fillmore Western Addition.

The BayView has published many articles documenting the tenants’ ongoing campaign at Midtown. We look forward to the community’s continued support and to our struggle ending in victory for Midtown tenants.

Pat Smith and the Midtown Tenants’ Association can be reached at info@savemidtown.org.

4 thoughts on “Response to ‘the real story of Midtown’ from tenants who also live there

  1. Phyllis Bowie

    1. Fact – Midtown residents were protected under Rent Control for over 40 years. Therefore we knew exactly how much our rents would increase every year we received a notice.

    2. Displacement. Fact Midtown tenants have already been displaced. The apartments at Midtown were inhabitable, mold etc. due to City 50 years of neglect. With no plans for repair. After removing Rent control. Threats of eviction for not paying the new dictated increased rents, some to market rate, the highest rent in the nation – people were forced to move.

    3. Rent Control is not based on income. So the statement that seniors subsidized higher income households is a false statement. Most residents enjoyed a virtually static rent for decades under rent control as their incomes fluctuated. Because some senior residents are now on a retired lower fixed income they were still paying the same rent for decades. And they always had a choice to move into public housing in order to have rent lowered based on income. Now that The City replaced our rent control with HUD public housing policy of 30% based on total household net worth, which includes income, savings and assets. Because of this forced rent change, there are currently senior retired residents that are paying increased rents of 2 to 3 times more. Is this fair? NO! We signed up for rent control and planned our retirement accordingly.

    4. Improvements under Mercy. ALL health and safety work being done at Midtown are done under emergency status because The City did zero maintenance for nearly 50 years. Appliances replaced were over 30 years old. There are still residents that have old appliances. Mercy told a resident to “stop cooking so much” we will not replace your stove even though it was decades old, had multiple repairs and only 2 burners worked.

    5. Security and Lighting. Mercy cancelled our security that we had for over 20 years, cancelled pest control and installed a motion light system that resulted in a totally dark and unsecure garage. After protests and letters from The Tenants Association: After over 1 year of tenant requests, a substandard security company was hired, pest control returned and garages are now well lit. The op-ed article was praising Mercy and The City for Midtown improvements. The truth is we the Midtown Tenants have had to either get sick from mold or protest unfair treatment to get what we have now. Nothing was given to us.

    6. Residents renting out garage space, Airbnb etc. I am disappointed that the residents felt it necassary to complain about former residents who did not follow the rules. The fact is there were a handful of restidents not doing the right thing, they are no longer living here. That was a minority. The majority of Midtown tenants are hard working rule abiding members of our community.

    I am proud of those Midtown residents who continue to do the right thing and will not stop speaking out until EVERY tenant has a habitable home and are not paying increased rents. I pray that those residents that had their rent decreased, their homes repaired and are happy with how mamagent treats them, will stand in unity until all residents have the same pleasure.

    Phyllis Bowie 25 year Midtown Resident

    Reply
  2. Anti Gentrifier

    HOW could Bayview support London Breed for mayor when she has sold people out time and time again?

    And this is but one example!!!!

    Reply

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