The real story of Midtown – from those of us who actually live there

by Alicia B. and CT Miller

Midtown Park Apartments – Photo: Natacha Yarbrough

Midtown Park Apartments is a 139-unit development for low and moderate income households in the Western Addition community. It has been the subject of a lot of political fighting and accusations recently. It is also our home.

We have both lived at Midtown for over 30 years. We raised our families in this community.

Under the old management, Midtown Park Corp., there was no consistency in when our rent would be increased and calls for repairs went unanswered and unaddressed. Midtown still has no elevators, making it difficult for senior residents to get around the property.

In the last few years we have watched individuals and organizations who don’t live at Midtown and have never been active in the community spread misinformation and work against the interests of residents.

We are tired of this vocal minority speaking for us. We feel it is time to speak up for ourselves. For our voices to be heard.

Here’s the real story:

Supervisor London Breed was the first City leader to step up with real long term solutions for Midtown. When she and the City came with a proposal to modify the rents at Midtown, we were shocked to learn that rents paid by many of the senior and lower income residents like us were actually subsidizing higher income households.

Supervisor London Breed was the first City leader to step up with real long term solutions for Midtown.

That is wrong. Seniors and families who live on a fixed income shouldn’t be paying a higher percentage of their monthly income in rent than those earning far more.

And to make matters worse, some of the tenants who are protesting this program own homes or were subletting their units at Midtown. Some were even making a profit by listing their units on Airbnb and renting their parking spaces. This is money that wasn’t being invested back into improving Midtown or addressing the maintenance and accessibility needs that residents like us were experiencing with our units.

City leaders have started to change this and the actual results of the recent changes at Midtown, which have been so harshly criticized, are as follows:

Like everyone else at Midtown, we are now paying 30 percent of our income in rent – not a penny more. As a result of this change, our rent decreased! Our homes have become more affordable, not less, and we will never pay more than 30 percent of our income in rent as long as we live at Midtown. We have more income to spend on groceries, our families, and to save instead of spending everything we make on rent. Paying for housing is now less stressful.

Like everyone else at Midtown, we are now paying 30 percent of our income in rent – not a penny more.

None of us have been displaced, and we won’t be.

With funding from the City, new roofs were put on the buildings. Security and maintenance staff were also added. Mercy Housing, the new property management company, has been improving our units, replacing appliances, addressing mold problems and poor lighting, replacing carpet, adding fire safety upgrades, and even changing the layout to make it easier for senior residents to get around their homes. Living at Midtown is much better now.

The City is planning for more significant improvements to Midtown including a new fully accessible building, which will help ensure that seniors can continue to live in Midtown in an environment that any of us would want our families to enjoy.

We love our community, and we want our homes to be improved and remain affordable for us. That is exactly what is happening. Don’t be fooled by those who want to score political points by dividing our community or cover up what has actually been going on. Facts matter. Our voices matter.

Writers Alicia B. and CT Miller can be reached via editor@sfbayview.com.