Mother Brown’s: From chairs to beds

Brother Malik Seneferu stands in front of his mural at the clinic Dr. Arthur Coleman founded at 6301 Third St.

Serving the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood for over 50 years, Mother Brown’s will at last provide beds for her clients.

by Maria Victoria Ahearne

Members of the Beds 4 Bayview Coalition, Mother Brown’s, Providence Foundation, Shamann Walton’s office, local business owners and neighbors were invited to the table to hear Director of Homelessness and Supportive Housing Jeff Kositsky announce a new 200-bed facility in the Bayview at a meeting that took place at 4301 Third St. on July 25. All present were unanimous in their full support for the project, while expressing concerns and asking questions.

The space dedicated to the center is one third of a Caltrans property, positioned on the backside of SFPD’s projected new forensics lab and motorcycle parking at the corner of Toland and Evans Avenue. The majority of concerns from community members focused on job opportunities, cultural competency, structural and operational logistics, aesthetics and leadership.

Supervisor Walton referred to job opportunities for the construction of the facility projected to begin by March 2020: “There is nothing that will get done in this district that will not go through our local hiring process. Local nonprofits will provide the workforce.”

The City of San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing will be holding two meetings for community questions: Thursday, Aug. 8, 6-7:30 p.m., at 4301 Third St. and Monday, Aug. 19, 6-7:30 p.m., at 1800 Oakdale Ave. This would be a great opportunity for the neighborhood to come out and show support and solidarity with Mother Brown’s as well as inquire on job opportunities for local hires on the construction of the facility.

The 200 long-sought Beds 4 Bayview will be housed at 1925 Evans under the 280 freeway in an area now used as a Caltrans parking lot, thanks to a 2017 law allowing for public use of underutilized land beneath freeway overpasses.

At the last Beds 4 Bayview Coalition meeting on July 31, while discussing the importance of cultural competence, a member mentioned the undeniable presence and relevance of Hunters Point native Brother Malik Seneferu. We agreed to reach to him the next day to explore further, and when he answered on the first ring, a meeting was set for the next day.

The meeting with Brother Malik reminisced on the history of relationships, art, youth and the beauty of Hunters Point. In a relationship-based agreement, it was undeniable what a great fit Brother Malik would be for the beautification of this 200-bed facility. We are grateful he is willing to contribute his talent to the beautification of the center from logo development to murals, hiring a team of local youths to partake in the landmarking of this permanent 200-bed facility.

The importance of art and healing seemed an appropriate way to kick off the celebration of the new facility and the future collaboration of the neighborhood and the city of San Francisco in making the pathway to housing a success for our unhoused neighbors.

On June 29, Beds 4 Bayview organized a dance, “Gettin’ Down with Mother Brown’s,” held at Eli’s Mile High Club, Oakland. A warm thank you to DJ April of B-Side Brujas for securing the venue, DJs of Black Rhythm Happening, Dizzy Miss Lizzy (Lis Owuor) ‘n Maria, and DJ Miss Cherry Bomb (Maya Bulleit) of Night Owl Sound Revue for providing the music. Love to all the beautiful people who came out to boogie and to our soul fam worldwide on Facebook who donated online.

The all-female DJ line up was an intentional celebration of female leadership – a nod to Mother Brown’s 50 years of female-led community work on the front lines. Brother Malik has graciously donated the artwork for our next fundraiser; $500 of the $1,500 raised has been used to secure his services in the future. Thanks again for everyone who donated!

For far too many years, people currently unhoused but who had lived in Bayview Hunters Point all their lives found welcome and friendship at Mother Brown’s. They could eat there, wash and store their belongings, but City regulations prohibited them from lying down to sleep, even on the floor. When they had nowhere else to sleep, their only bed was a chair. No one should have to sit up to sleep, and elders especially suffer from severely swollen feet and legs. Their suffering has spurred the movement for Beds 4 Bayview.

All meeting notes and upcoming meeting announcements with the Beds 4 Bayview Coalition are available through joining our email group at beds4bayview@gmail.com and on our Facebook page: facebook.com/beds4bayview . We meet regularly once a month to discuss beds for Bayview Hunters Point; watch for the location.

We are all looking forward to seeing our neighbors at these next meetings held by the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing and District 10 Shaman Walton’s office: Thursday, Aug. 8, 6-7:30, at 4301 Third St., and Monday, Aug. 19, 6-7:30, at 1800 Oakdale in the Alex Pitcher Community Room.

Showing up in solidarity with Mother Brown’s, by the Community, for the Community!

Maria Victoria is a resident of Hunters Point and member of Beds 4 Bayview Coalition. She can be contacted at 415-815-8930 or baycitysoul@gmail.com.