Guest editorial by Dr. James McCray Jr.
Several months ago, the Tabernacle Community Development Corp. (TCDC) received word of an upcoming request for proposals, coming out of the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD), for the purpose of selecting public-private partnerships to rehabilitate, manage and eventually own selected properties around the city and county. The word did not come to TCDC by official channels but by an informal “heads up” from a former partner.
The message came with information that the organization of major developers in the community had already conducted conclaves, making decisions about the re-envisioning process and leaving certain properties in the “dead zone” unclaimed. There might be room for TCDC – San Francisco’s only African American development corporation – to organize our community, constituency and local partner companies to claim one project in the Fillmore (Western Addition) or Bayview Hunters Point.
TCDC worked for three months with community-based companies as well as well known developers and investors to prepare a qualifying response to the request for proposals.
Please note that in this process the SFHA will turn over to the city and selected public private partnerships over 3,300 units of housing, presently rented by low income families and senior citizens. In a city whose Black population has dropped from a high of over 12 percent to under 5 percent in three decades, the population in these units is nearly 80 percent Black.
In a city whose Black population has dropped from a high of over 12 percent to under 5 percent in three decades, the population in these 3,300 public housing units is nearly 80 percent Black.
The planned government subsidy will provide a financial base of $900 per door, per month; and the MOHCD is endeavoring to generate capital investments to finance the transition of ownership from “the government” to private partnerships over a 90-year period.
When the announcement was made of the groups securing the award of the first seven of eight property clusters on Feb. 25, TCDC’s inclusion was postponed, and the two predominately Black teams formed over the three months were denied any future consideration. The Black community, labor and SFHA residents began a vehement protest of the process and its perceived predetermined outcome.
“No mo’ Fillmo” and “We are sick and tired of being locked out!” were the cries coming from protest groups during the March de-selection process and in subsequent SFHA board meetings. Community residents and activists, business men and women, labor members and contractors all see the ongoing re-envisioning of public housing as the latest strategy to advance the out-migration of Black people in particular and the poor in general from the city by the Bay. Passions are high and resolve to stop the process is widespread.
Community residents and activists, business men and women, labor members and contractors all see the ongoing re-envisioning of public housing as the latest strategy to advance the out-migration of Black people in particular and the poor in general from the city by the Bay. Passions are high and resolve to stop the process is widespread.
Last week I went to Yoshi’s for the Roy Hargrove concert on Fillmore Street. In the audience, I counted one Black man (me) and five Black women (including my wife and daughter). On the street itself, I observed two Black men all night, rummaging through garbage cans. To quote a friend, clearly Fillmore Street is “The field no mo.” Clearly, in the end, locked out means shut out!
As we walked to the car, my family and I acknowledged the pain. What other people, in what other city anywhere in the world, have been so disinherited and dispossessed – while the authorities accepted full responsibility with impunity?
Being locked out and shut out is not a figment of Black San Franciscans’ imagination, but a conscious reality and day to day experience. No affordable housing, no employment, no advancement, no inclusion, no equity, no participation!
Being locked out and shut out is not a figment of Black San Franciscans’ imagination – no affordable housing, no employment, no advancement, no inclusion, no equity, no participation!
That is why TCDC stands with those who are voiceless and sick and tired of being locked out of a future with hope in the city. Will you join us?
Dr. James McCray Jr.is executive director of the Tabernacle Community Development Corp., 1601 McKinnon Ave., San Francisco CA 94124, 415-296-9101, firstname.lastname@example.org.