Situated at the juncture of San Francisco’s Chinatown and financial district, 53 Columbus is a “prime” piece of real estate by anybody’s estimate. But the tenants of this very desirable property—mostly low-income Chinese immigrants—probably wish it were not so. Their troubles began in 1998 when San Francisco City College—the owners of 53 Columbus—issued eviction notices with the intention of demolishing the building.
Over the last decade, Florida-based mega-developer Lennar Corp., has been snatching up the rights to the Bay Area’s former naval bases—those vast stretches of land that once housed the Pacific Fleet but are now home to rats, weeds, and sometimes, low-income renters.
Despite Katrina causing the worst affordable housing crisis since the Civil War, the federal Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) is spending $762 million in taxpayer funds to tear down over 4600 public housing apartments and replace them with 744 similarly subsidized units—an 82 percent reduction. HUD took over the local housing authority years ago and all decisions are made in Washington D.C. HUD plans to build an additional 1000 market rate and tax credit units, which will still result in a net loss of 2700 apartments to New Orleans. The new apartments will cost an average of over $400,000 each.Affordable housing is at a critical point along the Gulf Coast. Over 50,000 families still living in tiny FEMA trailers are being systematically forced out. Over 90,000 homeowners in Louisiana are still waiting to receive federal recovery funds from the so-called “Road Home” reconstruction fund. In New Orleans, hundreds of the estimated 12,000 homeless have taken up residence in small tents across the street from City Hall and under the I-10.
by Robert Ewing
Since The John Stewart Co. took over management, residents of Alabama Manor in San Diego are constantly finding notices on their doors and are afraid to leave because of how often their apartments are entered while they’re away. The anxiety has led to deaths, suicide attempts and panic attacks.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors took on two of the city's most intractable problems in its first meeting of the year - and handed victories to a plan to set aside an unprecedented sum of money to finance affordable housing and a measure to streamline enforcement of laws against sleeping in the parks.