OPINION: Stopping rent-hikes in affordable housing

A for-profit developer keeps trying to charge residents more money in an affordable housing project in Bayview Hunters Point

Young Community Developers has been fighting for Bayview residents and the entire District 10 community for more than 45 years. In 2016, YCD full leased-up it’s first affordable housing project (working with for-profit developer AMCAL) on the Shipyard (Pacific Point), with 59 units of housing, all at 50% of AMI.

Affordable apartments on Friedell St, where the developer keeps trying to raise rents

In the beginning, YCD had brought back 12 certificate of preference holders into the community, and ensured more than 50% of residents were African American (from the community) working with Bayview Hunters Point Multi-Senior Services and the community at large. This was a big win for all of our efforts to fight gentrification and displacement of the African American community; we should also note that the entire building is majority-minority housing.

Within the first six months of the building being fully occupied, AMCAL unilaterally tried to raise rents 10% for all residents after receiving new income guidelines from HUD. This was neither acceptable nor required as AMCAL was grossing more than $60,000 a month and netting (after expenses) more than $30,000.00. When YCD told AMCAL this was unacceptable, they were not happy but conceded at the time. A few months later they raised the rents (unilaterally) 3% for all residents in 2017. YCD was unhappy and has informed AMCAL of its disdain with that decision for months. 

Now, a year later, AMCAL has unilaterally decided to raise rents again with another proposed 3% increase. Not only are they trying to raise rents in our city while we fight gentrification, displacement and affordability concerns, but they are now refusing to speak with YCD (which is required by our Limited Partnership Agreement). The staff at AMCAL has failed to connect the team at YCD with its management staff and they are doing this with disregard to the morality that should exist when you are in the business of working with people. 

So in an era where Tetra Tech has falsified samples of toxins on the Shipyard, we now have a developer (AMCAL) that is trying to attack the quality of life of a community of residents that are already isolated and disenfranchised. AMCAL is basically contributing to the forces that have been forcing people out of San Francisco for years, by making it impossible for some residents to pay their rent and removing the “affordable” from the affordable housing that was promised to our community years ago.

The following needs to happen:

1- AMCAL needs to never raise rents on residents when they are realizing a solid profit monthly (particularly when residents are already paying about 1/3 of their income towards rent);

2- AMCAL should never be allowed to receive another development opportunity in San Francisco (their morals and philosophy do not gel with our values in San Francisco and they are the exact opposite of a responsible developer that cares about people and our neighborhoods);

3- Since we are currently stuck with AMCAL as the co-developer for Pacific Point, AMCAL needs to consult with YCD on EVERY major decision before even thinking about causing harm to the residents at Pacific Point and stay true to the Limited Partnership Agreement we have in place).

4- Any future decision AMCAL wishes to make that affects residents at Pacific Point, should include a community process where residents are not only informed, but also have an opportunity to provide input in decision making

You can email AMCAL’s asset manager, Ryan Barnett, at rbarnett@AmcalHousing.comand let him know we won’t tolerate these types of predatory practices in San Francisco.

YCD has been more than fair in its approach with AMCAL (to no avail at this point). AMCAL’s actions have been irresponsible at best and if they continue in their course of action, the damage will be irreparable and feed the gentrification of the African American community and push more people out of the city. Please join us in publicly putting AMCAL on notice that their mode of operation will not be tolerated in San Francisco. This is an appalling scenario and we have all been working together to fight the dismantling of our neighborhoods and communities.

Shamann Walton is the Executive Director of Young Community Developers (a workforce development organization in Bayview Hunters Point), a member of the School Board, and a candidate for D10 supervisor.