by Nube Brown, Editor
On my way to the offices of the San Francisco Bay View National Black newspaper, Thursday, Sept. 29, I received a text from Dennis Williams of No Racism No Hate saying: “Half of Plaza East on Larch Way in the Fillmore is without hot water. Water is coming out cold and brown. Water heater is being replaced, but workers just said they installed a boiler but think a homeless person broke it already.
“Residents are at my door and calling me saying their kids, babies cannot be without water for any more days!”
Cold, brown water! Is this Jackson, Mississippi? Flint, Michigan? No, it’s the Fillmore, in San Francisco, California.
So, a few questions come to mind. Do the Plaza East residents have clean running water or not? Do the Plaza East residents have hot water or not? Why is this multi-billion dollar housing developer just now taking care of repairs that have been needed for years – “after Supervisor Dean Preston gave the billion dollar slumlord company $3 million to complete repairs?” reported Dennis.
Why is this outsider slumlord still in our community abusing us and lastly – and perhaps most importantly – what would this scene look like if we had Black developers, Black community members, Black contractors, etc., employed to attend to the needs of our community?
Here’s what Dennis had to say and suggested we do most immediately:
Dennis: It’s been an eventful day in the Fillmore, from police harassment and raids this morning at 5 a.m. to a whole row of units, people who have been without [hot water]. I didn’t know all the details because I’m on the other side of the street now. My unit on the other side of the street has been abated by DBI, which is the Department of Building Inspections, so you can just kinda feel what we’re living in – uninhabitable living conditions, as a lawyer would say.
Anyhow, as you know, I’m one of the community leaders, so I’m getting emails, phone calls, knocks at my door of all races; that’s why I named my grassroots organization, No Racism No Hate San Francisco, for that reason alone. So, what’s going on here is people having brown water for three to four days is what Ms. Danita Flores told me, and she has two young children.
One child is 2 years old who’s supposed to have a birthday party on Saturday. I didn’t even know about this. It’s not like notices came in the door or anything to tell people.
A year ago, Dean Preston, along with London Breed, gave MBS $3 million of taxpayers’ money, San Francisco’s money, for immediate repairs.
The flip-side of what’s been going on is the company McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), the billion-dollar out of state slumlord, is changing the boilers. Why are they changing them now? Because our lawsuit is heating up in court. Our trial was supposed to be Nov. 30 for over 25 residents who are suing for issues like uninhabitable living conditions, pests, black mold, security and safety reasons, all types of things – which if you understand the Black community, we all deal with these same issues, and what’s happening right now.
A year ago, Dean Preston, along with London Breed, gave MBS $3 million of taxpayers’ money, San Francisco’s money, for immediate repairs after some of the news articles came out, namely one that you put out for me, thank you so much – the community appreciated that – and the ones that came out in the San Francisco Public Press and the Chronicle.
Nube: What would it look like if Black contractors, developers, etc., were hired?
We could hire the troubled youth of the community. Employment is an antidote to crime. Our young people can be paid, and it’ll bring pride, cultural pride: “Did we just get paid for doing something in the community?” This never happens! It’s 2022. Spending $100 or $50 for barbecues at these little summer programs and things for these kids is not enough. These kids know about $150, $200 shoes. Let’s pay them accordingly.
We have over almost 200 units here at Plaza East; that means 100 backyards. They’re cleaning the backyards, weed-whacking and removing garbage. That’s it! Nothing else. They’re paying a Latino company $800 to $1,200 per yard!
In the Black communities, billions of dollars are being allocated for development in Sunnydale, Potrero Hill, Fillmore, yet no Black contractors have contracts!
You times that by 100, that’s $80,000 to $120,000 that they’re stealing from our communities. It’s over 20 youth, various ages and young adults, that would’ve loved to do that work and it would’ve helped them see, “Look, we’re doing something positive! We’re bettering our community, and we were paid! That’s way better than going to break into somebody’s car for a couple dollars.
These stories gotta come out. In the Black communities, billions of dollars are being allocated for development in Sunnydale, Potrero Hill, Fillmore, yet no Black contractors have contracts! We’re supposed to be millionaires! We’re supposed to be popping out millionaires!
There’re Black women that are interior designers! Decorators! They’re supposed to be designing some of these buildings. Millionaires, 10-hundred-thousand-aires – see how that’s changing? You could help your children, you could help your nephews and nieces, you could help your grandma, your mama. But they’re taking that away from us.
We’re suffering; our kids are suffering. Adults. There are men that need jobs. They always say get a business, start a business; we’ve been told this our entire lives. Well I have one, and so many others, Sterling Framers and so many others. Why are we not being hired when we are, on paper, over-qualified?
If you’re in public housing in San Francisco, low income housing, get a lawyer.
Nube: Dennis, considering both the immediate and long-term issues, what are you asking the People to do now?
Dennis: Ok, if you’re in public housing in San Francisco, low income housing, get a lawyer. Sue for the conditions that you’re staying in and that they’ve kept you in for so many years. That’s one.
Nube: Can this also be a class-action?
Dennis: No, never do a class-action. This is what I learned, and I got over $100,000 from this company two years ago. And I’m suing again because I didn’t waive my rights and they kept me in these conditions. See? We can out-smart them. Never do a class-action in a city like San Francisco when the lawyers are the people at City Hall.
Nube: Individual suit, People. Right now we have cold, brown water. You have the right to sue.
Dennis: Secondly, we have to get on our supervisors. I don’t care what district you’re in. But definitely get on our supervisors to demand that we have Black real estate developers, Black contractors to build our communities. Redevelopment is everything. And also, we want our communities for ourselves.
Call Supervisor Dean Preston at 415-554-7630 and Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton at 415-554-7670.
Dennis: Oh! The San Francisco Giants have a 1.5 billion project – there is not one Black person on there. This stuff is criminal! Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, those people made that corporation into what it is today. Imagine, imagine. Thank you.
Editor’s note: We will continue to follow this story, of course. But look for the ongoing series of stories we intend to cover from Dennis Williams regarding the City’s refusal to hire local Black contractors, Black real estate developers, community members, etc. We want our communities back!
Bay View Editor Nube Brown is a developing New Afrikan, abolitionist and Liberate the Caged Voices columnist. She hosts Prison Focus Radio on KPOO 89.5 San Francisco and KPOO.com every Thursday 11:00 to noon and also broadcasts Bay View TV Breaking News on Instagram @sfbayview every weekday morning from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.