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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.

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