Residents of Midtown Apartments in San Francisco's Western Addition rallied today in support of their 6 month old rent strike, and to honor the life of a longtime elder resident whose life was cut short by the harassment of property manager Mercy Housing. The Midtown Apartments are near Dividasero and Geary in SF.
San Francisco, February 10-The rally took place Wednesday afternoon in front of Mercy offices on Mission Street between 9th and 10th streets. Signs proclaimed: "Justice and Fairness For Midtown," "Black Homes Matter," "Honk For Rent Control," and "Midtown Is the Last 3 Percent." The latter sign referred to the fact that San Francisco's once burgeoning African American the One of the displaced black residents whose home was razed was Jose LaCrosby, who "in the 1950s overcame stereotypes against black male stylists to do the hair of " African American musical icons "Billie Holiday, James Brown, Nina Simone and Little Richard," according to a press release at today's rally. Mr. LaCrosby later moved to Midtown Apartments.
One participant at the rally held a photo of Mr. LaCrosby, looking dapper and wearing his trademark fedora. He died recently after being "forced to live out his last few months in a distant VA hospital," the press release stated. Residents say Mercy didn't help Mr. LaCosb stay in his Midtown home, thus hastening his death.
In recent years, the Mayor's Office of Housing, the previous property manager, of Midtown, transferred the master lease to Mercy Housing, which reportedly wants to destroy the housing complex. Mercy also attempted to jack rents up as much as 300%, which would have evicted many residents. This grave injustice prompted the current rent strike.
At today's rally Midtown tenants cited other recent examples of management harassment, such as that Mr. LaCosby suffered. Resident Phyllis Bowie reported that Mercy "has reduced security 90%," causing her undue anxiety about getting home from her late night job. She also said there is talk of putting in surveillance cameras.
Another tenant, Pat, reported that she has lived in Midtown 45 years, many of them as a foster parent. Recently management has begun to impose a policy that would force tenants who want visitors to obtain permission 30 days in advance. "That would make it near impossible for my kids to have friends over," Pat said.
The rally concluded on a high note, with Mr. LaCrosby's son, Peter John, saluting the rally participants passion. "He had that same passion," he said of his father. "We're not going to be pushed out. We're not going to take it. Save Midtown."
The Midtown tenants want to convert their homes into a democratically run housing cooperative.