[Hpn] STREET SHEET E-Zine -- July 2001 -- Part 4

coh coh@sfo.com
Tue, 03 Jul 2001 15:21:01 -0700


        by Miss Visitor

June 5, 2001

You think, because I am in a certain place where you would be if it were not
for your cunning manipulative behavior, that you can falsely accuse me with
your non-responsive stare and grim expression of various crimes.

You convey the expression that, by associating with those who are less
fortunate than myself, that I condone the actions of others or that I am
somehow painted with the guilty brush of intimidation that creates the
pattern of the shelter dweller.

You do not want to acknowledge my abilities because you think to do so would
make you seem small in your efforts to dumb down to your level my
intelligence and awareness.

Your response to my refusal to join your illegal games, and indulgence in
attempts to attribute your motives to me, results in your insinuations and
management by innuendo.

I am in a shelter. You are the monitor.

This week.

Next week our roles may be reversed.

Miss Visitor


Gentrification Under the Veneer of Revitalization

Westpoint will become the sixth neighborhood in San Francisco to be
revitalized with the HOPE VI program, leading to the forced displacement
of several hundred low-income African-Americans.

In 2002, 267 families who have bathed in the golden rays sprinkled lavishly
from the illustrious sun will be relocated to other parts of the city of San
Francisco and state of California. The spirited cadence to which these
families in Hunters View once strutted will be reduced to a drone, and they
will march to the tune of a dirge. Immediately after these families have
gone, their 350 aged houses located on 22 acres of hilly coastline off the
San Francisco Bay will be demolished and replaced by 442 newly developed
homes. In 2005, after the new homes have been constructed, 117 families will
be permitted to return. The other 150 families will have the only housing
they have known taken from them, as lions steal both the wildebeest and its

But the lion is not masked, and neither is the plan that will aid in the
permanent displacement of the 150 families. The national action plan to
eradicate severely distressed public housing arose out of recommendations by
the National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing. The plan,
dubbed HOPE VI, has always been met with vehement opposition throughout the
country and has been described as a device used for gentrification under the
veneer of revitalization.

In June of 2001, the San Francisco Housing Authority submitted a HOPE VI
2001 Revitalization Application to the United States Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD) to create a traditional San Francisco
neighborhood of attached town houses and flats to replace the existing
barracks style public housing, located in Hunters View, which is commonly
referred to as Westpoint, in San Francisco, California. If the application
is approved, Westpoint will become the sixth neighborhood to be revitalized
with HOPE VI funding. North Beach, Valencia Gardens, Bernal Dwellings, Hayes
Valley and Plaza East have also been funded through the HOPE VI Program,
causing a critical reduction in the number of African American families in
San Francisco.

There is no truth to this assertion that residents are permanently
displaced, stated Salem Prouty, General Engineer with Public Housing in San
Francisco. The rules and regulations for HOPE VI state that anybody
displaced will be given first opportunity to return. If a tenant does not
choose to return to the new house, then the unit will be given to the next
person on the waiting list - just like any other public housing, Prouty
stated as we spoke in his office at the Federal Building in San Francisco.

An application has been submitted for HOPE VI at Westpoint. Based on the
one-for-one policy of the San Francisco Housing Authority, each HOPE VI unit
that is demolished has to be replaced by a newly developed HOPE VI unit,
ensuring full opportunity of all existing residents in good standing to
have first choice for the new units. But if only 60 percent of the newly
constructed housing will be made available to residents, it would be
mathematically impossible for every resident to return to the new dwellings
that will be perched atop the ridge at Westpoint. Is this correct? was the
dilemma I propounded to Salem Prouty.

Well, if you put it that way, yes, replied Prouty, in recognition of the
oblique language which allows for an agency to employ methods associated
with corruption in its selection of which families and individuals it will
designate to enjoy the comforts of newly developed property. This vague
language also allows for wanton disregard of the rules and regulation and
vested rights of all families and individuals to return back to the place
from which they were removed. Eviction is one method that an agency may
employ to preclude a family from eligibility of future public housing.

Renee Taylor is on record as being opposed to the HOPE VI Program at
Westpoint. She was evicted from Hunters View for a puppy that was given to
her son on his birthday over two years ago, stated Marie Harrison during a
discussion of evictions that seemed to have no other logical reason except
retaliation as their causes. The puppy was stolen on the night that it was
given to her son. Everyone involved with the San Francisco Housing Authority
located on the premises of Westpoint knew the puppy was no longer at that
unit, but no one at the Housing Authority at Westpoint had been trained well
enough to instruct the Sheriffs Department, which carries out evictions,
that it wasnt a lawful eviction.

Renee Taylor told the Housing Authority at Westpoint that the puppy had not
resided at the unit since the night it was given to her son. She asked the
Housing Authority, Why is this eviction moving forward? The answer she got
was that the Housing Authority at Westpoint did not know how to stop it.
No one at the Housing Authority called downtown to inform them that the
puppy had not been at the home of Renee Taylor since the first night she
received it, over two years ago. They could not act as a liaison between
Renee Taylor and the San Francisco Housing Authority downtown to prevent the

Renee Taylor came home from taking care of her aunt to find her furniture
and personal belongings being carried into the streets by deputies of the
Sheriffs Department. Her home was boarded, and she now has to find an
attorney to argue her case, concluded Marie Harrison.

The situation in which Renee Taylor finds herself is not unique to the cadre
of activists who are the Ghandis of their communities. They have decried the
unscrupulous conduct of the San Francisco Housing Authority and resisted all
its efforts to silence them. They have read and educated their communities
on issues like federal public housing regulations and HOPE VI Programs.

I know the regulations and believe in the Constitution of the United
States, stated Theresa Coleman, the rubber band that holds the Westbrook
community together  the community adjacent of Westpoint. I will make these
regulations work for the people of Westbrook. But government does not follow
its own rules. It changes the rules to accommodate the rich, explained
Coleman, her eyes like those of a disappointed child who stands in front of
a locked candy factory.

Theresa Coleman has a long-standing and solid relationship of activism in
the community of Bayview/ Hunters Point. Her home is also the mailing
address for Ujamaa, the Resident Management Corporation for Westbrook, which
has been recognized by the San Francisco Housing Authority, HUD, Congress
and the City of San Francisco as a legitimate corporation. But Coleman also
has openly opposed the HOPE VI Program at Westbrook because, she says, the
concept of HOPE VI that the San Francisco Housing Authority has designed
does not allow for all residents to return after construction of new
housing. This hill is prime real estate in San Francisco. It has been a
lifetime dream of politicians and developers to take it.

I have the understanding to drive a HOPE VI, and to take every single one
of my people to homeownership, stated Coleman as she explained why she
believes that her impending eviction is politically motivated.

Whenever the San Francisco Police Department is called to public housing,
for whatever reason, a piece of paper is generated and sent to the San
Francisco Housing Authority downtown. A kid who lives outside of the
community was being chased by police. He ran inside my house and locked out
the people who were in my house. And my daughter and I found ourselves
trapped inside my house with this person. As I came out of the bathroom, I
saw the legs of my granddaughter flying though the air. I immediately came
to her rescue. The police were not able to penetrate the barricade. Because
my unit was involved, the San Francisco Housing Authority will soon serve me
with an eviction notice. When the report was written by the police, it
stated that I had intentionally harbored this person, stated Coleman. The
San Francisco Housing Authority has to employ thess retaliatory tactics
against savvy-minded activists like Theresa Coleman and Renee Taylor because
there will be no public housing lost in the creation of new, plush homes
under HOPE VI guidelines, but there will be wholesale replacement of people
who cannot afford the new homes. These intrepid activists are like soldiers
who have begun to trumpet the wake-up call in their communities. The aim of
the San Francisco Housing Authority, however, is to leave the armies in
disarray through its reprisal of removing the local generals from their

By virtue of the nature of its purpose, the San Francisco Housing Authority
realizes that there is a less than one-percent vacancy rate in housing in
the city of San Francisco. It has to reconcile any notion of a HOPE VI
Program with the stark realization upon completion that not one sheep from
Westpoint will be lost upon completion of the revitalization process. In
Westpoint 67 percent of the families have no income and 80 percent have
children. Where will the 150 families be permanently relocated, if they are
not permitted to return because they do not earn $30,000 dollars, annually 
or 40 percent of the Area Mean Income, which is approximately $70,000?

But an application has been submitted by the San Francisco Housing Authority
for Westpoint and in 2005, only a ghost of the effervescence of children
frolicking on the hillside in Westpoint will be apparent. The other children
will no longer be a concern for the city of San Francisco.

Other revitalization sites have already been designated and retaliatory
practices are already being employed by the San Francisco Housing Authority
in anticipation of resistance. According to Marie Harrison, On May 16,
2001, a discrimination lawsuit was lodged against HUD and the public housing
in Shoreview by a woman, who, by all accounts, is pro-active in community
organizations and a vocal resident of her tenants association. On May 25,
2001, she was served with a 30-day notice of eviction. The woman has two
sons who were receiving social security from their dead father. She took the
first check that she received to Housing in Shoreview and had it photocopied
so that her income could be adjusted.

Housing in Shoreview said that the boys were not 18 years of age, so the
income did not have to be added to her income. Last month, however, over
eight years later, Housing decided that the social security income her sons
received is income that must be added along with hers. So, she is being
charged with fraud and has gotten a 30-day notice of eviction.

The lure of an attractive, revitalized community with town houses, streets
paved with new asphalt, swimming pools, and all of the amenities that come
with redevelopment would dazzle many residents whose desires fall within the
sphere of ordinary people. But for the many activists whose commitments
exceed the plains of temptation and corruption, nothing short of a
one-for-one return will be acceptable.

Unless I am dead and planted up under the dirt somewhere, Westbrook will
not be gentrified with the lure of buildings like the Taj Mahal and other
mansions. The black community has been raped too many times, stated an
emotional Theresa Coleman.



Different Kind of Victim

We recently responded to a rare West Portal occurrence  a strong-arm
robbery in which the suspect was described as the homeless guy who sells
STREET SHEET in front of the bank. The victim, an employee of a nearby
baked goods outlet, was, she said, taking the days reciepts to that very
bank when the suspect dropped his papers, grabbed the loot and jumped into a
waiting car. The loss was in the $2,000.00 range and Avenue merchants were
rightfully outraged.

Local beat Officers knew the alleged suspect. This type of behavior was not
part of his M.O. and hed never had access to a car. Nevertheless, they
located the man several days later. He denied any involvement. Do I look
like I just came into a bag of money? he asked. Even the cops had to agree
with him on that point, so Sergeant John Haggett and Robbery Inspector Bob
Paco began asking more questions of the alleged victim. Finally, she gave up
the real story.

No, she hadnt really been robbed. She made up the story and picked the most
likely suspect she could think of. Then she and her boyfriend had blown
the cash on 2 1/2 days of high living  including a $400-a-night hotel room.
Its all gone, she said of the loot. All gone, too, was her West Portal
job! The real victim turned out to be the STREET SHEET seller and some good
police work not only cleared him, but also put his accuser in jail instead.

(Reprinted with permission from the April 2001 issue of the West of Twin
Peaks Observer.)




On tin cup corner

His face like a wrung-out rag

Begged for spare change

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
[for George Tirado]



Santa Cruz Civil Rights Update

Homeless activism is on the rise in Santa Cruz. In early June, the same
Superior Court Judge Samuel Stevens who granted a temporary restraining
order barring homeless activists from coming within 50 yards of City Hall
and the Mayors Administrative Aide Anna Brooks, refused to turn that TRO
into a Preliminary Injunction. Stevens found that Becky Johnson, Bernard
Klitzner, and Robert Norse, the three leaders of the City Council Koffee
Klatch and Tag-team Teach In, had no intention to harass Brooks. The Koffee
Klatch was a 3 week lobbying effort that provided breakfast, coffee and
moral support to homeless people willing to wait for a council member and
try to get Sleeping Ban Repeal or Shelter Expansion on the City Council

But in a backhanded gift to Mayor Tim Fitzmaurice, Stevens said the Sleeping
Ban opponents had no right to be in the public reception area, even during
business hours, and suggested their behavior could be tightly regulated.
Stevens expelled them from the City Council offices in December on the basis
of Brooks claims that they were, among other things, occupying office
furniture by sitting in it, paying for copies of public documents with a
$20 bill, and pilfering pens. Stevens rejected these claims as
insufficient evidence for harassment (after keeping his own TRO in force for
5 months), he ruled Fitzmaurice could institute new office decorum rules.
Fitzmaurices new rules forbid prolonged conversations, holding
meetings, loitering, and flyering in what had previously been
acknowledged as a space open to the public.

Within two weeks after Stevens decision, Fitzmaurice ejected Norse twice
from City Council meetings: once for asking for a right of reply to a
Council member who had attacked him by name; a second time for asking when
the public comment period was  a question the Mayor refused to answer until
Norse was barred. In that session, the Mayor ended by refusing to allow tent
city resident Larry Templeton to ask any questions about homeless services

Templetons Camp Paradise  a clean-and-sober neat-and-tidy makeshift
campground created along the San Lorenzo River near a Dennys restaurant by
homeless people with no legal place to sleep  became the subject of
front-page newspaper coverage with its flower gardens, bicycle repair shop,
and self-sustaining electrical generator. The Paradise campers hauled tons
and tons of garbage out of the area, earned the respect of the nearby
funeral home and cemetery, and turned a drug-and-violence-ridden area into a
safe zone within several months.

In response, Fitzmaurice visited, promised a port-o-potty and dumpster, and
commended the campers. He then silently directed police the next day to
uproot sick campers medical marijuana plants, and then announce the
following week that campers had to move by July 1st or face citations and
jail and confiscation of their property. Paradise partisans struck back by
going to the community and the media. By press time they had rejected the
Citys ultimatum, and declared they would only move if offered a lease on
another city property. Campers scheduled a community barbecue, secured a
volunteer attorney to publicly demand the city negotiate with Camp Paradise,
and organized paralegal volunteers to draft an injunction to prevent the
police from enforcing the citys Camping Ban, which even forbids sleeping
and covering up with blankets from 11 p.m. until 8:30 a.m.

The Citys shelter program cant provide spaces for the homeless and sends
them to us, declared Templeton, a Camp Paradise organizer, who noted 20
people had been sent by the Interfaith Satellite Shelter Program in the last
two weeks.

Templeton said they had found space for them all. The California Supreme
Courts Eichorn decision allows campers to use Defense of Necessity,
invalidating citations when there are no other legal places to sleep, noted
writer and video-journalist Becky Johnson. If the citations wont stick,
then why should the police be allowed to destroy the only homes people have?
Claims that campers pose an environmental hazard to the river have to be
balanced against the 24 tons of trash these same campers have removed from
the area.

While Camp Paradise women prepared We Wont Move signs, unknown vandals
hosed down various city offices as well as the state parks office, causing
the San Jose Mercury News to point a crooked finger at homeless activists.
Santa Cruz County state parks have recently been declared off-limits to
campers if they have spent more than 30 days there in any calendar year  a
new ruling unique to Santa Cruz, which intensifies the suffering of the
homeless community there.

Robert Norse


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