Sponsored link
Sunday, June 16, 2024

Sponsored link

News + PoliticsHousingMonths after federal officials demand action, not much has changed for tenants...

Months after federal officials demand action, not much has changed for tenants at Plaza East

Residents still fighting for urgent repairs to the public housing complex.


Two months after they sent a letter to the San Francisco Housing Authority with a list of demands to repair their homes and avoid displacement, the tenants at the Plaza East Apartments still have not received a memorandum of understanding or much meaningful action from the San Francisco Housing Authority.

“There’s been no formal communication from the Housing Authority in regards to the letters, or even just an update on what’s going on Plaza East,” said Isaac Santiago, a Black displacement and HUD-focused organizer with the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, who has been working with Plaza East residents on this case.

For years, Plaza East residents have lived in a state of rampant disrepair, having to deal with pests, broken plumbing and dangerously faulty electrical systems, clogged gutters, vacant units, and dumpsters sitting for days right outside residents’ doors.

Broken plumbing, dumpsters outside the door, and other problems still haven’t been fixed.

In March, with the help of Santiago and his team at HRCSF, the residents, led by community leaders like Plaza East Resident Council President Martha Hollins, invited Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Richard Monocchio to personally visit the 193-unit public housing complex in the Fillmore district. Their hope was that if Monocchio witnessed the state of Plaza East for himself that he would compel the SFHA, which is responsible for the upkeep and occupancy of public housing in the city, to make the necessary repairs at once.

To the residents’ delight, the proposal worked: On March 11, Monocchio made a visit to the Fillmore, one of San Francisco’s last remaining historically Black neighborhoods, to tour Plaza East. In response, Monocchio expressed to the residents that he would ensure SFHA meet certain demands, which include an investment of at least $7 million in thorough repairs as well as the removal of McCormack Baron Salazar, the St. Louis-based, for-profit public housing developer that co-owns Plaza East with the city, from all involvement with Plaza East.

On April 1, seven Plaza East residents co-signed a letter that detailed Monocchio’s five commitments, as well as five additional demands, and addressed it to Tonia Lediju, the chief executive officer of SFHA. Since then, they have been waiting for an official memorandum of understanding—a non-binding but good-faith written agreement—from Lediju’s office.

But more than two months later, no word has arrived.

Sup. Dean Preston, whose district includes the Fillmore, last week requested an update on Plaza East and any incoming response to the April 1 letter. The next day, emails that are public record show, Lediju responded that the Authority has indeed “shifted its focus from immediate redevelopment to stabilization of current site conditions,” referring to MBS’s plan to raze and redevelop Plaza East, which the residents expressly oppose in the April 1 letter.

Lediju also said that “the stabilization of the site is imperative before embarking on the long journey of redevelopment,” and that the Authority has “diligently kept up communications with the Plaza East Tenants Association (PETA) and the Development Advisory Committee (DAC) and kept them apprised of these efforts.” 

However, the residents and Santiago say this is a misrepresentation of the clarity, or lack thereof, with which SFHA shares information with the residents about the future of their homes.

“Even when we’re in those meetings [between SFHA and Plaza East residents], they’re very vague with what they tell the residents, especially when it comes to the services they want to choose and for the redevelopment,” Santiago said. “There’s always been a veil of shadows, in a way, for the residents.”

Santiago said that John Stewart Company, the property management agent for Plaza East, has stated that over 200 repairs have been completed since Monocchio’s visit to the site, but Residents still report living in uninhabitable conditions.

“Where these repairs are being done, we have no clue,” Santiago said. “Ms. Martha [Hollins] has been asking for an itemized list of completed repairs for such a long time, but they have yet to give her that list.”

According to Lediju’s email to Sup. Preston’s office, MBS, who hired John Stewart to manage the property, remains an owning partner at Plaza East. No residents are cc’d on that email.

As for next steps, Santiago said that HRCSF will reconvene with the tenants to decide how the community would like to move forward.

“Ultimately, we move on what the tenants want to do,” Santiago said. “So we need to see where we want to prioritize our focus next.”

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram


Nevermind the capitalism… It’s ‘The Lehman Trilogy’

Humanizing a rapacious clan of slavery profiteers... in this economy?

SF Opera tackles mass shootings and class privilege in ‘Innocence’

A wealthy wedding stirs ghosts of a past tragedy in Kaija Saariaho and Sofi Oksanen's probing work.

Screen Grabs: Frameline LGBTQ+ Film Fest pops out of the box for Pride

A Juneteenth Block Party, new venues, films from around the world, and even a couple of gay lions this year.

More by this author

Mental health center in the Castro under suspicious threat of eviction

Members of Queer LifeSpace held a rally at 2275 Market St. to organize and avoid being kicked out before they’re served eviction papers.

Partying at the altar of Anh Phoong: Packed crowd hails billboard queen at the Stud

Newly reopened queer bar's Whatever party welcomed attorney icon with mimes, caviar, and AI anthems.

Federal official tells SF to fix ongoing problems at ‘uninhabitable’ Plaza East public housing

But despite successful organizing campaign, repairs haven't started.
Sponsored link
Sponsored link

You might also likeRELATED