Friday, April 25, 2014

Justice for Sabrina Carter's family!

"A family destroyed by eviction", 2014-04-16 by Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia, Poor News Network []:
Tiny – or Lisa Gray-Garcia – is co-founder with her Mama Dee and co-editor with Tony Robles of POOR Magazine and its many projects and author of “Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America,” published by City Lights. She can be reached at Visit [] and [].
Bang, bang, bang … “Sheriffs here. Open the door! You have to vacate the premises.” On Wednesday, April 8, at 9 a.m., after weeks of last minute legal maneuvers, unanswered calls to the mayor and multiple pleas for a pro bono lawyer to save the single mama Sabrina Carter and her three sons from one of the most unjust evictions I have ever witnessed, we were exhausted. The San Francisco sheriffs, standing shoulder to shoulder with the sold-out housing managers, were outside her door in the Plaza East apartments to change the locks and throw her and her sons into the street.
They were outside the door of Sabrina’s no longer public – now privatized – housing in the Fill-no-Mo, like they were outside me and my mama’s door and so many other people’s doors who were developed, rent-raised, gentrified, Negro-removed and destroyed by this capitalist system that encourages, supports and demands moves inspired by greed.
In these deadly, sci-fi-like moments, when entire families’ lives are destroyed by colonizers’ papers and politricksters’ lies, with names like unlawful detainers, notices to evict and right to possession, time itself moves so strangely slow and so terrifyingly fast all at the same time. Suddenly, before any of us could catch our breath, Sabrina and her youngest son were standing there in the early morning sun, holding back the tears as they watched large plywood boards nail shut what used to be their home.
Sabrina’s family’s tragedy of injustice has everything to do with the dismantling, destroying and privatizing of the public housing system in the U.S., which is rooted in the misleading HUD acronym known as RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) and the ways that racism and policing and the criminalization of young Black and Brown men are used to implement that privatization.
Sabrina’s crisis began when her oldest, then 17-year-old son, like so many youngsters, began to be stalked and profiled by a local police officer who obsessively over-polices the one block of majority African descendent residents at Plaza East []. When I was sitting with the family on their front stoop, he circled Sabrina’s one tiny block over 45 times within one hour.
Multiple profiling of her son eventually led to false charges against the young man, which then led to the building management forcing the mother to file stay away orders against her own young adult son and eventually stipulated agreements she could never keep and ultimately eviction to make way for richer, whiter, gentrified tenants which make this building more desirable in the privatization pool.
“Plaza East is not part of RAD,” one of the managers who presided smugly over Sabrina’s eviction said at a tenants meeting that the POOR Magazine family was invited to a week prior. After his assertion that their apartments were not part of the filthy RAD pool where everyone from non-profit organizations to for-profit corporations like Goldman Sachs were making bank, he went on to contradict himself in one paragraph.
“Well, actually the San Francisco Housing Authority subsidies are now going to come from RAD and we are going to start moving people out who are not fully inhabiting their apartments,” he concluded, thoroughly confusing everyone in the meeting. He went on to cite the three projects that are slated for demolition, as if the demolition of thousands of people’s homes were nothing more than having a cup of coffee and a donut.
Standing on the street holding this mama and her son, dreams, memories, altars, mementos, toys and herstories of this family’s life were permanently lost in a series of hefty bags and clutched blankets. These moments can’t be described and yet I have tried for years. The tears they cause could fill an ocean and no matter how conscious, how revolutionary, and how much I know them far too intimately, I am still destroyed by them.
We stood there, POOR Magazine co-madres and reporters Queennandi, Jewnbug and me, along with Sabrina’s neighbors and extended family, holding onto her 13-year-old young warrior son and onto her, a lost and overwhelmed mama.
My mind raced with the moves of the last few weeks. The desperate legal saves comrade Leo Stegman and I did for the family at POOR Magazine’s Revolutionary Legal Advocacy Project. The media justice campaign and the countless stories written with POOR and PNN, the San Francisco Bay View and Manilatown Heritage Foundation.
The thousands of caring people who made phone calls to the sold-out mayor, Ed Lee, to try to get him to intervene in this illegal and unjust eviction but who never did because of course it was Lee who invited the private developers McCormack Baron, who bought this public housing, and their lying lawyers, Bornstein and Bornstein, into this town. Not coincidentally, these are the same lawyers who have been evicting Ellis Acted elders and families from their long-time homes by the thousands, while teaching landlords how to be better capitalists and “not care.”
We are still looking for a lawyer to challenge this case. The unjustness of this story has no words.
If you are a lawyer who can help file a state challenge to Sabrina’s case, please contact us. POOR Magazine will also be holding an organizing and info meeting in the Bayview branch of the SF Public Library in May entitled RAD = ERADICATION. Please stay tuned.

Sabrina, left, and her sons sing spirit at City Hall on March 11. Mayor Ed Lee, formerly a civil rights lawyer specializing in eviction defense, turned a deaf ear. – Photo: PNN

Poem for privatized, displaced mamas -
“Been fighting for 30 years and I keep losing. Why keep fighting when I’m never gonna win?” said one young privatized, gentrified mama in so much pain to me on the phone as I screamed out to touch her and love her no matter what …
“Noooooooooooooooooo,” I shouted to her and to all the mamaz, the elders, the gentrified and the stepped on.
To the mamaz who hold their heads up – even when there ain’t no more strength in their necks, whose eyes look forward filled with tears, whose hands hold so much, whose souls were never built to be killed over and over again.
These stolen lands weren’t created by the gentrifiers and all the haters, who make these laws and live on all this paper.
Dear Mama Sabrina, Mama Dee, Mama Mimi and all the mamaz who never did nothing but care for their children in racist Amerikkka, I’m raising Superbabymama from the ashes of 1999 dot com evictions. I’m calling upon Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer and Quetzalcoatl – I’m calling upon Mama Earth and Mama Creator.
The brutality of eviction and gentrification is so deep and wrong and filled with so much white-supremacist monetary lies and deep hatred. THIS is our Freedom Ride, family, and all of us mamaz and ancestor mamaz are needed.
Hold out your hearts in the wind. Call to your ancestor mamaz to hold these children and these women.
Beware this lie of civilization and corporate crafted institutional statehood. Hold out your hearts, mamas – cuz you know what I’m saying. Hold out your hearts, young mamaz, older mamaz, grandmothers and babies,
‘Cause the river of pain is too great to be sedated, and the women and children are about to go completely CRAZY.
The sounds will be loud and the vibe will be amazing –
‘Cause we all KNOW Superbabymama don’t play.

You know you’ve been evicted when your door is covered with plywood and nailed shut by a sheriff’s deputy. San Francisco might as well hang a “No Trespassing” sign over the whole city, as gentrification sweeps out poor folks at an unprecedented rate, with “progressive” leaders like Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi presiding over countless thousands of evictions. – Photos: PNN

Please help Sabrina and her sons find a good home and a champion to help her fight for justice. – Photo: PNN

Monday, April 14, 2014

"Strengthening the walls between public housing and affordable housing"

2014-04-14 by Lynda Carson (tenantsrule (@)
San Francisco - In San Francisco and elsewhere, the new mantra being pushed by the Mayor's office and shills for the affordable housing industry is to claim that we need to breakdown the barriers between public housing and affordable housing. This is a sham meant to bamboozle the public out of it's public housing units locally, and elsewhere. This same type of privatization scheme is occurring all across the nation to privatize our public housing, and needs to be countered by any means necessary, whenever possible.
The current information available in regards to the situation at Berkeley's 75 former public housing units, reveals that public housing privatization schemes using tax credits to buy and rehabilitate the public housing units, results in the displacement of poor people from their homes and communities!
We need to strengthen the walls between public housing and affordable housing before all of our nation's public housing units are privatized and sold off to the so-called affordable housing industry.
What government officials and the shills of the affordable housing industry are not telling you, is that privatizing our nation's public housing units is bad for the tax payers. Privatization places the buildings at risk of foreclosure, displaces the poor from their long-time homes, further enriches the executives of the so-called affordable housing industry, cheats the public out of it's public housing units, and destroys good middle class union jobs in the process.
Simply put, the federal government needs to fully fund public housing projects all across the nation, and the government should purge the shills of the affordable housing industry out of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that are pushing for the privatization of our nation's public housing units.
Recently, San Francisco has embarked on a scheme to sell and privatize around 3,491 public housing units under the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. A number of nonprofit developers are involved in the privatization scheme including the Tabernacle Community Development Corporation, Mission Economic Development Agency, Bridge Housing, Mercy Housing California, John Stewart Company, Japanese American Religious Federation, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, Community Housing Partnership, Bethel A.M.E., San Francisco Housing Development Corporation, Ridgepoint Non-Profit Corporation, Community Housing Partnership, Glide Community Housing, Bernal Heights Housing Corporation, Bridge Housing Corporation, Chinatown Community Development Center, and the for profit housing developer Related California, owned by out-of-state billionaire's Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross.
It is still not a done deal, and HUD may not approve all, or part of the scheme to privatize the 3,491 public housing units under RAD. However, unless the public gets involved to protest, and stop the process of privatizing our public housing units, the affordable housing industry is in a position to grab and exploit tens of thousands of public housing units all across the nation. The affordable housing industry schemes to reap billions of dollars in profits for years ahead, once it gets it's hands on our public housing.
The scheme to use for profit developers, so-called nonprofit affordable housing developers, bank loans and tax credits to privatize and rehabilitate our public housing units results in poor people being replaced by higher income tenants, to make the new projects viable. Making matters worse, most so-called nonprofit housing developers use "minimum income requirements" at their projects, that discriminate against the poor.
As an example of how tax credits change the makeup of the low-income tenants at public housing developments that have been privatized, what is happening in Berkeley sheds light on what is really happening to public housing projects when they become privatized.

Profile of Berkeley's Public Housing Tenants In 2009 -
Berkeley's public housing tenants that resided in 75 town homes received a shocking notice dated October 27, 2009, announcing that the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) planned to privatize and dispose of their long-time public housing units.
On February 11, 2014, the public housing tenants in Berkeley were sent a notice telling them that their public housing units have been sold and that transfer of ownership was to occur on February 14, 2014, to the new owners who happen to be some out-of-state billionaires named Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross, of the Related Companies.
The data available is not complete for all 75 public housing units in Berkeley during 2009, but from what data that is available for 57 units of public housing, the data reveals that 15 out of the 57 public housing units had households earning more than $35,000 annually.
Additionally, according to data about Berkeley's public housing units in 2009, there were 39 persons that received Social Security benefits, 36 persons that received SSI benefits, 23 persons that received TANF benefits, and 22 persons that received General Assistance benefits. From the data available, it appears that at least two-thirds to three quarters of the public housing households relied on one or multiple forms of public subsidy for daily living expenses, and that almost three-quarters of the households earned less than $30,000 annually. Additionally, 60% of the units had three or four members per household, with 85% of the residents that identified themselves as being "Black/African American." There were 11.2% of the tenants that identified themselves as being "White," and 2.2% identified themselves as "Asian." The 2009 HUD AMI for Oakland-Fremont, CA., was $89,300 for one person.
Presently, the average Social Security monthly benefit in California during 2014 is $1,294 per month. The average SSI (disability) benefit payment is $877.40 per month. The average TANF (CalWorks) family in California is an adult with two children that receives $510 a month in benefits. General Assistance in California during 2014 pays $336 per month to a single person. Food Stamps (CalFresh/SNAP) for one person is $189 per month, and persons receiving SSI/SSP are not allowed in the program.

Profile Of Berkeley's 75 Public Housing Units After Privatization in 2014 -
In regards to the 75 public housing units that were privatized as of February 14, 2014, the affordability breakdown for the new tenants in the privatized units will appear very different from what the tenant's income was as public housing tenants during 2009, according to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC).
According to data released on September 25, 2013 from the CTCAC for the newly privatized 75 former public housing units in Berkeley using tax credits to rehabilitate the buildings, Related plans for an affordability breakdown of 8 units at or below 35% of AMI, 49 units at or below 50% of AMI, and 17 units at or below 60% of AMI, and one unit for a manager. Currently the 2014 HUD AMI for Alameda County is $88,500 for one person.
The current information available in regards to the situation at Berkeley's 75 former public housing units, reveals that public housing privatization schemes using tax credits to buy and rehabilitate the public housing units, results in the displacement of poor people from their homes and communities.
Strengthening the walls between public housing and affordable housing would help to stop the displacement of poor people from our nation's public housing projects.

Click on the link below for another story about the privatization of San Francisco's public housing units...
"SF public housing privatization threatens tenants and union workers", 2014-04-10 by Lynda Carson []

Comment: "Rental Assistance Demonstration Program", 2014-04-14 by Mr. Shillingsworth -
You should read up on the Rental Assistance Demonstration Program. The majority of your facts are incorrect. Current tenants are guaranteed two things: a newly renovated/constructed unit and the right to stay.
The so-called shills of the housing industry will be taking on unbelievably large financing risks (construction, operations, lease-up, etc.) in order for this program to work. The government is incapable of making a program like this work without the private sector's help.
At its current funding levels, it would take HUD 250 years to disperse the funds to match those available through the RAD program. It is true properties will become at risk of foreclosure if they are not managed properly. That said, these properties will be converted with project-based Section 8 contracts, which guarantees rents. The only reason a property would be foreclosed on is if they are wildly mismanaged, a risk which is mitigated by the new financial intermediaries - the lenders and investors.
The shills of the industry are responsible for producing the overwhelming majority of affordable housing in the United States. Far more than the government is capable of producing themselves.
I would think as a tenant advocate, you would be doing whatever you could to get involved and help this process work the best it can. It is, after all, about residents having quality housing. If that can't be achieved through the status quo, things need to change.
Response to comment by Lynda Carson:
I stand by story. Public housing needs to be fully funded, and we need to strengthen the walls between public housing and so-called affordable housing.
Privatizing public housing is bad for the public who lose their public housing units to private entities, the scheme displaces the poor from their long-time homes, and destroys good union jobs in the process.
Making matters worse, so-called nonprofit housing developers discriminate against the poor with "minimum income requirements," at their projects.
Click below for list of nonprofit housing developers in San Francisco that use minimum income requirements to discriminate against the poor... []
Presently, the average Social Security monthly benefit in California during 2014 is $1,294 per month. The average SSI (disability) benefit payment is $877.40 per month. The average TANF (CalWorks) family in California is an adult with two children that receives $510 a month in benefits. General Assistance in California during 2014 pays $336 per month to a single person. Food Stamps (CalFresh/SNAP) for one person is $189 per month, and persons receiving SSI/SSP are not allowed in the program.
Compare the list above with the "minimum income requirements" being imposed by so-called nonprofit developers to see who faces discrimination...
Once again, click below for list of nonprofit housing developers in San Francisco that use minimum income requirements to discriminate against the poor... []
Billionaires trying to get their hands on San Francisco public housing units -
Related California, owned by billionaires Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross, is one of the for profit housing developers trying to get their hands on San Francisco's public housing units.
Currently the billionaires of Related are trying to get their hands on some of San Francisco's public housing units including the Robert B. Pitts, 203 public housing units, Westside Courts, 136 public housing units, Hunter's Point East, 80 public housing units, and Hunter's Point West, 133 public housing units.

"Manhattan U.S. Attorney Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against the Related Companies"
(PRESS RELEASE from MARCH 17, 2014 -- Related Companies sued by Manhattan US Attorney for being engaged in a pattern and practice of developing rental apartments that are inaccessible to persons with disabilities.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Oakland public housing residents facing inhumane rent increases

"Public housing tenants to pay higher rents"
2014-04-08 by Lynda Carson [tenantsrule (@)], posted to []:
Oakland - With around 50 million people living below the federal poverty line including 47 million people receiving food stamps, the attack on the poor by the Democrats, Republicans and the Obama Administration has heated up again by forcing public housing tenants across the nation to pay higher rents effective June 1, 2014.
Many public housing tenants are now facing major rent increases according to Section 210 of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Appropriations Act of 2014. The FY 2014 omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 3547) affecting public housing tenants was passed by a Senate vote of 72 to 26 on January 16, 2014, and shortly after was signed into law by President Obama.
The Oakland Housing Authority currently has 2,121 public housing units and based on the latest census report, Oakland has the highest poverty rate for children in the Bay Area with more than 27 percent of them residing in households earning less than $23,000 annually.
The bill H.R. 3547 requires a significant change to the way public housing tenants are being charged rents, and requires Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to establish flat rents at no less than 80 percent of the fair market rent (FMR), effective June 1, 2014. This is a huge change from the old policy of setting flat rents at no less than 60% of FMR, and will hurt many public housing tenants locally, and across the nation. The higher rents are intended to affect higher income public housing tenants at 60 to 80 percent of median family income, and residents will have the choice of paying an income-adjusted rent, or paying a flat rent.
The latest attack on poor public housing tenants are in addition to the recent nearly $9 billion in cuts to the food stamp program that are to occur over the next decade, including massive across-the-board sequestration budget cuts that have occurred, and other on-going attacks on our nations poverty programs being orchestrated by Republicans and Democrats alike.
As an example of how the higher rents will affect some public housing tenants, it was reported that Columbia public housing tenants living at the Bear Creek project in Missouri, will see their rents more than double. Additionally, tenants at the Stewart Parker site will have their rents incrementally increased from $345 per month to $809 per month, over the next three years.
Other major changes in effect may also affect Section 8 housing choice voucher holders. Under HUD's old guidelines, Section 8 tenants that used to be considered as extremely low-income (ELI) tenants had an income of 30% of the area median income (AMI), or less.
Under HUD's new guidelines set during January of 2014 as a result of H.R. 3547, extremely low-income tenants are now being defined as persons with an income higher than 30% of the AMI, or the federal poverty line, adjusted for family size. The new change in definition may eventually mean that Section 8 voucher holders may also face higher rents in the future, along with their comrades in public housing. However, the rent increase to public housing tenants are not supposed to affect Section 8 tenants presently.
Strange as it may appear, now that extremely low-income persons are being defined by HUD as people with an income higher than 30% of AMI, or the federal poverty line, HUD has declined to give a new name to the millions of poor people living in poverty with an income of 30% of AMI, or less all across the country.
To help put the situation of people living in poverty into perspective. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 4, 2014 report, 10.5 million people are unemployed, and for many of those who are working at minimum wage, the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since July of 2009.
Additionally, the federal poverty line for an extremely low-income person was listed in 2009 as one person earning $10,830 annually, or less. The new poverty line for 2014 is listed as one person earning $11,670 annually or less, even though the minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009.

Other Local Public Housing Tenants Facing Rent Increases -
The Alameda County Housing Authority has 72 public housing units. The San Francisco Housing Authority has 6,592 public housing units. The Richmond Housing Authority has 715 public housing units. The Housing Authority of Contra Costa County has 1,177 public housing units. The Housing Authority of Marin County has 496 public housing units. The City of Livermore Housing Authority has 125 public housing units. The Santa Cruz County Housing Authority has 234 public housing units.