No Surplus People - Just Surplus Property!!!

root - Posted on 18 December 2004

The People march in favor of Surplus Property Legislation

by tiny

My friends lived next door

Until the Bulldozers came

My uncle lived down the block

until the bulldozers came

My Auntie lived upstairs

Until the Bulldozers came

I lived in my house all my life

Until the Bulldozers came

And then we didn't live


A poem by Lydia 10 years old , houseless youth from The Houzin' Project, Words, Art and Resources on Eviction, Displacement and Homelessness by POOR Magazine

"I am a single parent who is currently homeless, or what is called marginally housed, I am bouncing from family to family, pillar to post in order to survive" Lisa Cooper, resplendent in baby blue velour, cafe au lait skin shimmering in the end of the day glow addressed a crowd of over 200 powerful poor folks, organizers and advocates gathered at the first stop on a march and community speak-out held last Monday to bring attention to the abandoned or surplus n property that exists in the over-priced, under-housed city that is San Francisco, well-known for its seemingly unsolveable "homeless problem" or as those of us who are or have been homeless, its relentless targeting and harassment of houseless folks for just that, being houseless.

"If we were able as a community to run a property like this," Lisa's voice lifted above the afternoon wind as she pointed to the brown-black emptyness that was a cavernous government building located at 525 Golden Gate, "we could establish job training programs that would get us a living wage and on-site child care facilities so we can take care of our own children, but to do all this it takes us working collaboratively, coming together, raising our voice…"

The Surplus Property Campaign was formed by a diverse coalition of community and religious groups in December of 2003 to investigate city-owned surplus property properties for the development of low-cost housing. To date, the campaign has identified 30 properties owned by the city and County of San Francisco that have been declared vacant, surplus or underutilized that are suitable for housing development. Under current zoning these sites could yield between 750-1000 units of affordable and supportive housing.

BOOOM BOOM BOOM BOOOMbobobobobobdumddddd….. Our march was serenaded by the live rythems of the percussionists; Que Banda as we took off to the next location.; two empty lots on Gough between Polk and Van Ness.

"We are hoping to build a supportive housing unit on both of these lots, " Randal, one of the organizers from the grassroots housing group, Right To A Roof who along with long-time housing activist, James Tracy , Board Supervisor Chris Daly, a newly formed coalition of religious groups called the San Francisco Organizing Project and several other dedicated folks organized this campaign addressed the crowd, " this housing would be for foster children transitioned to nothing but homelessness, people who have struggled with substance abuse, mental illness, people who don't necessarily know what "normal" is"

On May 12, 2004 following the power of the voices heard at the march on that late Monday afternoon. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the Surplus Property Legislation 9 to 1, Tony Hall being the only one against it. The bill sponsored by Supervisor Chris Daly approved the use of 15 vacant properties for the develop ment of housing. Although the legislation originally covered 40 surplus properties it was amended so that 25 locations were referred back to committee for further discussion .

Although this was a huge victory for real solutions to homelessness , i.e., HOUSING ,the organizers will continue to fight for the other 25 locations , because, like many of the currently houseless marchers chanted ; There are no surplus people - just surplus Property … and we all have the right to a roof!!!!!

To get a copy of The Houzin Project , click on the POOR Press button or call 415-863-6306


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