“I Heard That” — Battle to Save Powell’s Place Continues …

by Rochelle Metcalfe on November 7, 2007

PAY OR QUIT!! Yesterday, Emmit Powell, owner of Powell’s Place, LLC, had until close of business to pay $125,000 in order to satisfy back rental debts owed landlord Laramar Management Services, LLC, a Limited liability company based in Chicago, owner of the Fillmore Center!! Failure to comply, action would immediately be enforced to recover the property! That’s the bottom lime!

As late as Tuesday, Rev. Amos Brown and Task Force Committee to Save Powell’s Place, have been scrambling in emergency meetings to raise funds through individual donors, churches and investors (heard a rich money man has been approached to help cap off any shortages). Moneys have been deposited in the Ujima Fund , embracing one of the Principles of Kwanzaa — Ujima means Collective Works and Responsibility.

A prior meeting, October 23, held at West Bay Conference Center, Representatives of Laramar consented to Rev. Brown and Task Force 10 days to settle back payments owed by Powell. Rev. Brown promised to come up with a plan to continue operation of the Restaurant and pay off the debt.

If all fails there is a front runner team, African-Americans allegedly with all the credentials, ready to go! In fact, I know the Chef! But if The Task Force is successful, it remains to be seen, after the money matter is settled, will Laramar renegotiate a deal with Powell (who has been operating without a lease since July), and his new management team who are Rev. Brown, Dr. Doris Ward, Attorney Carl Williams, consultant Perry Lang, a potential LLC partner. Powell told me he would remain President/CEO.

Tried to get a head’s up before my deadline. Tuesday morning called Lang, who explained “a business plan will be presented to Fillmore Center management today along with financial options for them to consider.” Stay Tuned!


The Baptist City Preacher, the flair of Martin Luther King, Jr., has been one busy man mixing sermons of hope, meeting with the people trying to resolve vital issues in DA ‘MO!

Once again, Rev. Amos Brown called a meeting at Westbay Conference Center, Thursday, November 1, to address two items of extreme importance – Powell’s Place, and more importantly — Marcus Garvey – Martin Luther King Co-op!

The Holiday season is upon us — but may not be so bright for those residents living in the San Francisco Western Addition Garvey-King Section 8 housing! DEJA VU again! The African-American community is faced with yet another dilemma – Black Removal! Friday, November 9 could be the day the process begins if certain HUD criteria are not met!

Rev. Brown, President San Francisco NAACP Chapter, Commissioner, San Francisco Housing Commission, joined by Dr. Doris Ward, and members of the Task Force, to hear testimony by tenants living in Martin Luther King – Marcus Garvey Cooperative Housing Development Complex. About 400 or more are threatened with displacement in a time when affordable housing is scarce – many residents are Seniors!

According to information received, MLK-Garvey failed a federal inspection last month with 37 out of 100 possible points, the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) decided it could no longer finance the co-op with Section 8 subsidies.

In recent years, reportedly the buildings have suffered from mildew, leaks, debt and management problems!

HUD’S decision to halt Section 8 payments almost assuredly will mean the co-op will go into default and HUD will take Garvey- King complex over! This issue just didn’t come up this month, but a long heated issue that has caused division with residents!

Evangelist Carmen Johnson, community activist, longtime co-op resident, and a godly woman, in raised voice stated “A house divided can not stand! We’re not standing right now, we stand in the way of progress! We need to come together !”

City officials are telling Garvey-King tenants and the Board of Directors that agreement is the only way to prevent them from losing their homes.

The meeting at West Bay was contentious; some residents faulted former Board President Carlos Levexier, rising young community activist, in control for two years, for failure of the properties to pass recent inspections.

During a phone conversation with Evangelist Johnson, Vice President, newly-elected co-op Board of Directors (Linda Yoakam, President) stressed if HUD goes through with the Default take over the co-op, tenants would be displaced, faced with long waiting lists in what is already a shortage of affordable housing.

The HUD program offered members of the Black community who took advantage of this program to achieve self-sufficiency through real estate ownership and purchased such property in October 1978.

HUD sold apartments to tenants as a co-op in 1982, but continued supporting it with Section 8 vouchers. Residents built up equity through, their monthly fees. IF they moved out, they could cash in on their equity or pass to family members.

TENANTS TRUSTED THE DEAL! The government mortgage is due to be paid off in december 2019, and a month later, they should celebrate the year 2020 with clear title to their San Francisco real estate allowing the families of Garvey-King, who have working adult children and relatives, to shoulder their full burden and successfully go the distance to real estate ownership.

Abe Landry, original co-op tenant, and still a resident of the community, told the gathering “Don’t let nobody try to intimidate us – we got to organize, do our home work! Don’t say what we can’t do – they ain’t going to fool us!”

Landry, along with Nat Mason (then a police officer), Executive Director, Economic Opportunity Council, San Francisco, there at the meeting, and the late Bennie Holmes were the first co-op tenants! All three were fighters for the cause of black folks in the Western Addition in particular!


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