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There we were – the unhoused, the evicted, the displaced, the disabled, Black, Brown, Indigenous, poor white, youth and elders on one accord, all colors, all nations, all cultures, all ages, all abilities. The 2018 Poor Peoples March on Washington was originally launched by impacted poor, houseless and formerly unhoused people from the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign 15 years ago. Poor folks walked in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor Peoples March on Washington in 1968.
Poor, unhoused, barely housed, indigenous, Black, Brown and Red people don’t have presidents. We have prison wardens, police, sheriffs, anti-social workers, landlords, judges, bailiffs, poverty pimps, case manglers, ICE agents, CPS workers and debt collectors. Under Clinton, we lost welfare and the criminalization and incarceration of young people was institutionalized. Poor people don’t have presidents or governors or mayors. We have ourselves.
While two heavily armed police officers stood directly across the street watching us, a group of the most impacted, unhoused, criminalized, injured, disabled, Black, Brown, Trans and Indigenous peoples gathered to demand a 90-day moratorium on the killing of our Black, Brown, disabled and unhoused residents of this city and all cities struggling with the ongoing murder of our children, youth, elders and families.
In contrast to the hoopla and razzle dazzle of Mayor Ed Lee and company to hoodwink the public into believing that privatizing public housing is a good thing, an Oct. 7 letter from Congresswoman Maxine Waters to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) calls for more protections for public housing and public housing tenants being threatened by the RAD privatization program.
Public housing is home to over 1.2 million families across the nation, mostly the elderly, disabled and low-income women with children. The Bay Area is home to thousands of them. In an effort to save public housing in Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco and nationwide, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., wrote a letter to President Obama on Dec. 10 condemning the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, or RAD.
The plan to privatize and sell our public housing projects in San Francisco and across the nation is harmful to the poor, elderly and disabled, including the thousands of union workers who have spent years maintaining our public housing units. Thousands of union workers are presently facing job losses due to public housing privatization schemes.
On Wednesday, April 8, at 9 a.m., after weeks of last minute legal maneuvers, unanswered calls to the mayor and multiple pleas for a pro bono lawyer to save the single mama Sabrina Carter and her three sons from one of the most unjust evictions I have ever witnessed, we were exhausted. The San Francisco sheriffs were outside her door in the Plaza East apartments to change the locks and throw her and her sons into the street.
Behind a chain link fence on Site 6’s northern border across Avenue M from the island’s Wastewater Treatment plant, the Navy stores, moves out and continually replaces a trail of thousands of large boxcar shaped containers full of radiologically toxic materials to be shipped off-island. “There have been several (high-radiation) shipments and about a thousand intermodal (containers) of radium waste shipped from Treasure Island.”
This wasn’t 1967. This wasn’t Missisippi or Atlanta, South Africa or Argentina. This was San Francisco and this was the new Freedom Ride. We were trying to save another Black family from forced out-migration and eviction to make way for privatization. Eviction of Sabrina Carter and her sons is scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday; call Mayor Ed Lee, 415-554-6141, and ask him to stop the eviction.
Calls have flooded the POOR Magazine office from families and elders in desperate search for help and support to battle land thieves that utilize the Ellis Act to break laws that are in place to “protect the people” but that are overlooked or flat out ignored. As the hipster-techies invade the once family-oriented “City by the Bay,” the families and elders who contributed to the life of the Bay Area now watch helplessly as our homes are being stolen from us.
Because the Democrats joined the Republicans in allowing the sequestration budget cuts to continue in the latest political deal known as a “continuing resolution” that ended the government shutdown on Oct. 16, it appears to be a very grim situation for Section 8 voucher holders in cities all across the nation. Housing officials claim that 140,000 voucher holders are at risk of losing their vouchers because of the sequestration budget cuts.
The Mayor’s Office of Housing is acting at warp speed to push through a proposal to HUD called Rental Assistance Demon-stration (RAD), which will ultimately mean the privatization of all the last shreds of public housing in San Francisco. With the possibility of public housing becoming private, where does that leave the people who have been in this neighborhood for generations, such as my family and myself?
The San Francisco Housing Commission meeting of Sept. 4 on a new acronym called Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), code for selling public housing to private investors, was still. Still like a grave. A grave for all us poor people destroyed by the massive privatization of our public housing. Us unprioritized and barely housed, the forgotten elders and disabled folks, the very poor, the displaced, now houseless and rarely remembered.