Thursday, March 28, 2013

Resident describes life on Van Dyke

From a letter to Bevan Dufty by Bayview resident Amy Clark (posted by permission):
Good morning.  I am writing as a resident and homeowner, living directly across the street from Mother Brown's at Jennings and Van Dyke. I am a public school teacher, on a very limited income, and try to be a good neighbor.
I do not oppose the 100 new beds; I think everyone should have somewhere to lay their heads, and the lack of beds means people are on the street in the neighborhood, where often new problems are created.  I realize I am a relative newcomer (I moved here four years ago, just before the fire, which burned and then smoldered for 5 days due to toxic clutter) but I have some rights, the neighborhood deserves better, and improving the Bayview is good for the city. I don't think 100 new beds is incompatible with that, but I do think there needs to be some security presence outside the building to deal with the behaviors of the clients, many of whom are alcoholic, drug-addicted, and have poor social skills. In my experience I think the presence of the kitchen increases the safety of the corner, because the clients and the neighbors are paying attention to what goes on, and the police are also aware of the ongoing problems. Don't you think the corner deserves a transition that provides some new security and oversight?
This corner has had a lot of disturbances in recent years. The fire, the new construction (which is creating new problems for myself and my neighbors in terms of noise, potential loss of light and disturbance of the underground stream, which creates infestations of rats and mysterious insect life), the hostage situation, all affect the neighborhood. We have a quasi-permanent lake around the corner at Wallace and Jennings; every time it rains, deep water sits there for days, making it difficult to pass. Garbage and evictions by irresponsible tenants and unscrupulous landlords mean that daily there are piles of furniture and trash to navigate around. There are frequent shootings blocks away as you know. Another recent robbery of the cannabis farm led to pot being strewn all over the street and additional robbery of the site. Recently, a neighbor, Alvin Essick, stole my car, so now I am driving a car with busted locks, and the police were unable to do anything. Disturbances don't respect quiet hours.
That's  stress for me and my neighbors, who include a retired african american bus driver, a home-owner since the 50's,  and her extended family; several latino families including 10 children within 2 houses of me on either side, ranging in age from 7- 17, also long-time homeowners; Pacific Islanders and their families, and myself. Some of my neighbors asked me to speak to Malia Cohen (when she was newly elected)  during a conflict with developers across the street after the fire, because I had tutored their daughter with special needs and they knew me. I love this neighborhood, despite its problems. It has a sense of "neighborhoodiness" that many other neighborhoods lack due to a preponderance of young people and high tech workers, many of whom are transitory or uninvolved with their neighborhoods. There are more families here, and a long history. The hardware store that has been here 80 years under the same owners, the bbq operations, the involvement of environmental groups and restoration of the land, the post office (which is slated for closure unfortunately), the churches, the superindentendents' zone schools at which I have taught, Yvonne's Pralines, the Opera House, the new restaurants, the old restaurants, all contribute to the neighborhood in positive ways. I plan to be here long-term. I pay taxes, shop at local businesses, and vote.
I think if the city is committed to improving the neighborhood for EVERYONE, including the old and the new Bayview, it should be committed to supporting the new shelter beyond creating space, but including proper security and oversight. I have met many of the staff and they are lovely people doing god's work, but they are overburdened and understaffed already. Clients and guests of the shelter are mostly very polite and sweet, but on a daily basis there is screaming, domestic disputes at all hours of the night, conflicts of all kinds. I have dealt with a client regularly urinating and changing clothes in front of my door, and the staff was helpful in working with her. I don't mind people sitting on my steps while they wait for their meals, but I do mind people leaving trash there. Usually I just wait for shouting matches to stop, but if they go on for more than an hour, sometimes I have to call the police in order to sleep. Listening to "bitch, nigger," etc. at 3 in the morning is disturbing on many levels. Unfortunately, at times I have become complacent, as have many of the people who live here. Change is slow for residents, even as development is growing here rapidly, some positive, some questionable.
I am requesting real consideration to be given to quality of life for the corner with the new shelter, including safeguards and protections for all the people who live and work here, including myself. Clients of the shelter deserve it too. Due to a very busy schedule I only heard of it recently, and needed to put in my two cents.

Thanks for your time, and please let me know how it develops.
Amy Clark
Van Dyke Avenue 94124


fiercemom said...

Hey Amy,

We are actually acquainted, and ALL the attributes that describe the clients of the United Council, we both have INTIMATE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE with. We are simply, fortunately, privileged enough to be working and housed despite these issues.

The fact that people have shouting matches at 3am maybe has something to do with the fact that people are not allowed to actually sleep at the resource center, but must sit in chairs all night. That would piss anyone off.

I work in this area and serve the people who take meals at Mother Brown's and services at the resource center. There is suffering there that an increased police presence will not help, and believe me, the medical issues these people face because of their lack of housing and lack of even a place to lay horizontally at night is WAAAY more expensive to this city than the cost of a shelter... and yes, even the shelter idea is woefully inadequate.

Where does everyone think the people on fixed incomes go when the project housing is torn down after the SFHA deferrs maintenance until it falls apart? Not everyone is able to buy a house in a depressed area. The people who used to live on the hill or in the houses of parents who did own, are on the street now. The Hunter's View development, just like ALL the so called "affordable housing" in SF, has minimum incomes that exclude ALL people living on fixed incomes (seniors and disabled on SSI, families on assistance, single adults on CAAP/General Assistance). Most of the folks who use this resource center are messed over by a federal budget that has consistently and disastrously defunded low-income housing ( ).

For the general public and readers, i say NIMBYism = hateration: I just feel like it's a no-brainer... people, if you want people off your street, unequivocally support HOUSING them instead of bemoaning how dirty your stoop is.


It's what community looks like said...

Just a shout out to you both. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your thoughtful comments on what is clearly an important and complicated set of issues. - Jeffrey

Amy Clark said...

Hi Laure,

I do support the shelter expansion, and I do support increased housing and medical services, for all the reasons you mention. I think the expansion should be done with thought to the neighbors. I think that's reasonable, and am open to ideas.



amy said...

thanks for speaking your truth.
amy crumpacker