Randy, As an SF housing activist who has worked on public housing issues for many years, I am eager to read Arena’s book. My colleagues and I spend far too much time and energy addressing the fallout of HOPEVI in San Francisco. Unfortunately, it is not entirely true that all units were replaced here. In the beginning, some were simply not- and others, while replaced, were not of the same bedroom size. It wasn’t until some serious organizing took place around the North Beach projects that this commitment came about. And even with one-for-one replacement, the practical reality was not everyone was guaranteed that they would return to their homes. We have found that in the newer HOPEVI sites, former tenants were “screened out” or fell through cracks during temporary relocation and never made it back. Others were doomed to fail when extreme house rules were created by the new private managers, which made it all too easy to evict returnees once they did return. And now, what we see the most is the “milking” of prospective tenants so that homeless public housing applicants or current residents in need of transfers are denied access to these new and improved units because issues that poor people have such as bad credit or debt. This brings us to the present and the future. The city of SF has plans to demolish and rebuild the major projects under HOPESF. We have to be organized and vigilant to ensure that the same displacement does not occur. Supervisor Olague is introducing a “Right to Return” ordinance for this very reason. It is incumbent upon all of us who do not want to see a replay of what Arena reports in New Orleans or what we saw earlier in SF to strongly support this legislation.
This feedback was sent by:sara shortt from San francisco, CALetters to the Editor