Stop the demolition of Midtown and return the property to the tenants
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Black Homes Matter!
Support the tenants of the Midtown Park Apartments, one of San Francisco's largest concentrations of African-American and working-class tenants, who are facing demolition of their homes and removal from their historic community. The Midtown tenants were promised ownership of their homes, and now MOHCD and Mercy Housing took that away.
Midtown tenants demand:
o London Breed: Stop planned demolition of Midtown by MOHCD & Mercy Housing and honor the tenants' demand for co-operative ownership over their homes.
o Mercy Housing: Terminate your contract as property manager of Midtown Park Apartments.
In the 1960s and 70s thousands of African American residents were displaced from San Francisco through a city program called "Civic Redevelopment"- the systematic demolition of more than 100 square blocks of Black neighborhoods, homes, churches, and businesses. Redevelopment, also called "Urban Renewal" was meant to clear slum areas, but when writer James Baldwin visited San Francisco in the mid-1960s, he referred to the project as "Negro Removal".
The effects of Redevelopment are still felt today: In 1970, San Francisco's Black population was 13.4%. It has since declined to less than 6%. Black homeownership in San Francisco has steadily eroded ever since.
Displacement of long-term Black residents is one of the biggest problems facing San Francisco today.
The Midtown Park Apartments opened in 1968 as relocation housing for residents who lost their homes during the Redevelopment of the Fillmore-Western Addition. Midtown is the only property owned by the City of San Francisco that is not public housing.
Today, Midtown is a close-knit working-class community of long-time Black residents as well as immigrants from all over the world, including fixed-income seniors, disabled veterans, and children. Some tenants have lived at Midtown for over 40 years.
Midtown residents have been working for decades towards the co-operative ownership of their homes and even paid off the mortgage for the Midtown property. Despite repeated promises from the City of San Francisco that Midtown residents would be eventual owners of their homes, two days before Christmas Eve in 2013, the City terminated the lease with the tenant's association and without warning awarded it to Mercy Housing, a national Catholic affordable housing nonprofit. Since then, Mercy has raised the rent on many tenants (some up to 300%), implemented restrictive and discriminatory new rules, and has put forth plans to eventually demolish the entire Midtown property. Mercy Housing has also begun a program of harassing tenants - targeting seniors and tenants with low English literacy, cutting locks to enter apartments illegally and other tactics meant to intimidate tenants from fighting back. One senior tenant recovering from medical treatment at the VA Hospital has been unable to return to his home at Midtown for months because Mercy Housing refuses to move him to a ground-floor unit required by his doctors as a condition of discharge. Mercy has stated to him that they will only move him to a suitable unit if he pays market-rate rent despite the fact that he is on a fixed income. The current rent of a market-rate one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is approximately $3500 per month.
Since June of 2015, residents at Midtown have been on partial rent strike, refusing to pay their increased rent. But we need your help. We need you to stand with Midtown's tenants and demand that London Breed terminates planned demolition of Midtown by MOHCD and Mercy Housing, and implements concrete steps towards tenant co-operative ownership. Mercy Housing must stop its program of harassment and terminate its contract as the property manager. Please hold District 5 Supervisor accountable to its constituents.
Thank you for your support,
The tenants at the Midtown Park Apartments
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