Every week in her notorious public housing development, Darlene Fleming watches another neighbor move out and construction crews come in to nail plywood over the vacant apartment's doors and windows. And every week, she says, more residents get eviction notices, possibly signaling that they could be the next ones forced out.
Of the 267 units at Hunters View, 110 are boarded up. Just 157 families remain at the violent and dilapidated development in San Francisco's Hunters Point neighborhood and 116 of them are in danger of eviction because they're behind on their rent or for other reasons.
It's just what many residents feared when city officials said their development would be the first in line for a complete rebuild that would include hundreds of new, market-rate homes built among the subsidized units.
Hunters View is a housing project in Bayview Hunters-Point and is considered one of the worst housing projects in the nation, edging out the Sunnydale housing project in Visitaction Valley, also in San Francisco.
For those of you who don't know this is what institutionalized racism and gentrification looks like. Obviously, for events outside of their control relating to the history of white supremacy in this country (see "Sundown Towns," "The Heart of Whiteness," "No Thanks to Thanksgiving," "The Construction of Whiteness"), many of the San Franciscans who call Hunters View home are Black and other people of color. And its no mistake that in order to "clean up" the housing project they need to demolish it and basically displace an entire group of Black people.
A Hunters View resident puts it best:
"They're finding all kinds of reasons to put us out of here," said Fleming, a 60-year-old great-grandmother who has lived in Hunters View since she was 9 and whose eviction case is winding its way through Superior Court. "The less of us they have here, the less they have to deal with."Also, it should be noted that during the 1950s and 1960s it was white folks who were getting lones from the Federal Housing Authority, which was able to get many working class white folk homes and a place in the surburbs, but for Black folk (who are bared from getting loans from the FHA) they got federal housing (or "high-rise ghettos"); and because they got federal housing there were never able to own their own home and accrue wealth that could be passed on through the generations.
I've only passed by the housing complex by foot while heading to a few friends' houses in the area but from those short experiences I can tell you that Hutners View is in need of some repair, and many do recognize this:
The problem is we've seen this before. A neighborhood that is economically deprived and is populated by mainly people of color is declared dirty because of its rundown conditions (which the government is supposed to upkeep by the way). With this the government says they need to clean it up for the good of the people. They come in, bulldoze homes, kick people out, hire contractors to build new homes, whites move in, businesses follow, and now the neighborhood is to expensive for the previous folks to live there. Thus forcing people of color out of the city. It happened in the Filmore and it might happen again. Sara Shortt, director of the Housing Rights Committee, a tenant advocacy group, praised the city's plan to get Hunters View residents up-to-date on their rent, but also questioned the mayor's motive. "The city is stepping in and cleaning up the mess the Housing Authority has created, and that's a really positive thing," she said. "But at the same time, I think the mayor's working to prevent the political backlash that would occur if a flood of residents were evicted at the very first Hope SF project."
Sara Shortt, director of the Housing Rights Committee, a tenant advocacy group, praised the city's plan to get Hunters View residents up-to-date on their rent, but also questioned the mayor's motive.
"The city is stepping in and cleaning up the mess the Housing Authority has created, and that's a really positive thing," she said. "But at the same time, I think the mayor's working to prevent the political backlash that would occur if a flood of residents were evicted at the very first Hope SF project."
In a previous post I posted an article written in the San Francisco Bay View, a Black owned and operated newspaper, in where the author, talking about the Marcus Garvey complex in the Filmore, wrote about how whenever a reformist minded group of people would run for the complex board the government would say that an inspection was coming, they complex might fail, and therefore might shutdown, then once the reform folks were defeated and the old guard reinstated the inspection would come and the complex would pass. So inspections and the shutting down of housing complexes are also political tools to get rid of "unsavory people," such as reformists and people of color.
Not only that, but even if the complex is "cleaned up" and ends up looking nicer it does not fix the actual socio-economic situation that the residents are in. It just alleviates the minds of whites by having them say, "See, look, we fixed it. It's nice and pretty. Work done."
The Chronicle ends with:
Public housing residents in San Francisco who are in jeopardy of being evicted can call Bay Area Legal Aid, working in conjunction with the Housing Rights Committee, at (415) 354-6353.