San Francisco Black community demands a real housing plan

by Grace Martinez, Bayview ACCE community organizer

On Tuesday, Oct. 20, dozens of long time Black San Francisco community residents – many whose families arrived generations ago – took over the Mayor’s Office demanding real solutions.

Crowding into Room 200, the office of Mayor Ed Lee, on Oct. 20, Bayview Hunters Point residents, their faces reflecting their determination to fight to stay in San Francisco, demand a real housing plan to allow them to afford to live in the community they love. Many have roots as deep as five generations. – Photo: ACCE
Crowding into Room 200, the office of Mayor Ed Lee, on Oct. 20, Bayview Hunters Point residents, their faces reflecting their determination to fight to stay in San Francisco, demand a real housing plan to allow them to afford to live in the community they love. Many have roots as deep as five generations. – Photo: ACCE

Pastor Yul Dorn, ACCE member and Bayview resident facing eviction, was in attendance and spoke in front of 60-plus protesters crowded into Mayor Ed Lee’s office.

“We have seen far too many of our Black families leave San Francisco – priced out, pushed out. And the mayor’s plan doesn’t go far enough to keep working families, and especially Black families, in San Francisco,” he said.

Although facing eviction, Pastor Dorn declared to the crowd of supporters that he will be resisting his eviction and is refusing to leave his city and community.

In September, Mayor Ed Lee unveiled a five-prong plan to address housing affordability in San Francisco. However, many Bayview residents believe that Ed Lee’s plans will not be different from past administrations, citing the failure of Mayor Newsom to implement recommendations from his Task Force on African Americans in 2009.

Since Mayor Lee took office, he too has ignored that report, and he has also failed to address foreclosures based on two proposals from ACCE two years ago and earlier this year.

“We have seen far too many of our Black families leave San Francisco – priced out, pushed out. And the mayor’s plan doesn’t go far enough to keep working families, and especially Black families, in San Francisco,” Pastor Dorn said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, San Francisco lost over 12,000 African Americans between 2000 and 2014. Many of the Black San Franciscans who crowded into the Mayor’s Office blame failed housing policies and foreclosures, inaccess to high paying jobs and soaring housing prices.

Last week, the SF Chronicle reported census data that showed significant income disparities between white and Black workers: $29,000 a year for Black workers and $104,000 a year for white workers.

Residents believe that Ed Lee’s plan to provide height bonuses to developers to build affordable units for people who earn up to 150 percent AMI ($150,000 a year for a family of four) is just catering to his political donors and developers rather than preserving housing for communities like Bayview Hunters Point.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, San Francisco lost over 12,000 African Americans between 2000 and 2014. Many of the Black San Franciscans who crowded into the Mayor’s Office blame failed housing policies and foreclosures, inaccess to high paying jobs and soaring housing prices.

ACCE, who organized the action today, provided a list of demands, also criticizing Ed Lee’s plan to rebuild public housing:

  • Deliver on the failed promises of COO (Communities of Opportunity) and create a “pathway out of poverty” and into the new housing being developed with a clear jobs training, placement and retention plan.
  • Forgive public housing residents their back rent and provide them with a clear financial record and contract.

Protesters stated that today’s action was the beginning, and that they would continue to pressure the mayor.

“We are done with broken promises and a corrupt mayor,” said Belinda Rollins, ACCE member and AIMCO resident. “Everyone in the city is fed up.

“That’s why the Mission is pushing for a pause until there’s a plan [Prop I]. Bayview and the Black community are going to do the same. This is our last stand. If we don’t fight now, there won’t be a later.”

Mayor’s plan compared with our BVHP demands

San Francisco is being gentrified – long time Black and Brown communities, working families being pushed out and priced out by developers, realtors and industries that don’t serve our communities. In addition, City Hall refuses to pass or support policies and laws and push programs that will keep us here.

Instead, our mayor caters to the very entities that displace us. Here are our demands in contrast to the mayor’s plan:

ACCE BVHP Oct 20 Demands

Grace Martinez, Bayview organizer with ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment) and the Home Defenders League, can be reached at gmartinez@calorganize.org.