This Can Happen to You!

Phillip Standin... - Posted on 06 May 2014

Bruce Allision/ Correspondent for POOR News Network

May 6, 2014

This story is about something that can happen to you. Let’s take the way-back machine to the end of March 2012 in San Francisco. Kathy Galves had just been kicked out of her house in San Francisco that she loved and adored. An evil bank named Wells Fargo and an unfair court system with a judge that violated her civil rights had booted her out.

When this reporter got on the scene at Kathy Galves’ house, all the commotion was over. All I noticed was this poor woman trying to get her dog off the stoop. As a gentleman, I helped her out. I didn’t know her that well but we started talking. After we parted she began her travels through the wonderland of do-nothing social workers. Being a babe in the woods in this weird, weird land of unknown jargon, where this poor woman knew none of the rules and regulations, she could not fight back. Coupled with her health deteriorating, she was feeling every hit of the social worker wonderland blow by blow.

She was introduced to this world when the woman she had been staying with post-displacement was harassing her. Kathy had hurt her ankle on MUNI and felt like she needed help in this situation. She went into a social worker’s office lost and confused to ask for help. The social worker said that she would help. But she did absolutely nothing. She did not call her for a month. By the time she called, the problems had already settled in and she was deeper into the woods.

The second time I met Kathy she didn’t recognize me. I called her aside and told her I could get her back into her house. She looked at me confused. She thought I was blowing smoke. I do not blow smoke. My word is my bond. I had access to people that are not from the mainstream, who know how to get stuff done and work inside or around the system. (Also, I was looking for another story. As in a 1930 writer, I look for opportunity...)

Kathy went through one agency and another looking for help. This city is like a maze. She did not know her way through through this land and got lost many times. Social workers would tell her lies and send her to wrong locations. At the Mayor’s Office on Housing (MOH), a social worker said to Kathy, “We do not have housing, we work with contractors to build new housing.” Kathy asked some questions and the cryptic social worker replied, “We do nothing with existing housing. We just build new housing.” Kathy kept getting led deeper and deeper into the woods. But one friendlier agency helped her at this time. This was the Mayor’s Department of Disability. They decided to dub Kathy’s companion, the lovely dog Betty, a proper Service Animal. And she went on her way.

The next time I met Kathy, It was October 12, 2012. I had been arrested the night before, for reporting a story for POOR Magazine on an Occupy action to take back housing. It took the police 24 hours to process me, and by the time I got on the bunk they kicked my ass out of jail. When I got out I reported to the Travelodge on Valencia Street, where Kathy was getting evicted yet again and people were protesting. Patel Management was going to evict her because she stayed over the 30-day limit. She had residency qualifications so they could not instantly evict this woman, and yet there they were doing it anyway. Kathy would have to go through the court system for the second time. But she does not meet the criteria because she paid her rent on time. She did not break any known procedure for a lawful eviction.

She was then shuttled from one motel to another, and starred in a spoof performance on bedbugs. She also learned about other agencies in the City that could have helped her at the time. One of them was the Housing Rights Committee and the other was Independent Resource Center. They give classes to the newly homeless. She also played the wonderful lottery game for housing. If you don’t know it, you don’t want to try it. She moved from Bayview to Chinatown and back.

The good news is,POOR Magazine, which is a poor people-led movement i am a proud member of became a part of Kathy's impossible situation, helping her with poor people-led solutions to impossible poltrickster and bankster created problems, and fast foreward many months, Kathy and I got married and are now living together. In retrospect, Kathy’s story is only the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands more. It could happen to you!

The rest of this will be boring to people that are not into figures. This comes out of your taxpayers’ costs that banks will never have to pay…. at the cost of courts, sheriff’s deputies and other budget-related activities.

Using Google Scholar and along with SFGov (The City’s website) and then also simple mathematics, I found these numbers. Court costs in the year 2012, just counting Wells Fargo’s evictions, in the City and County of San Francisco, amounted to $2,000,000.00. These are not my figures. These are the figures of the Controller of San Francisco. Plus the costs paid by the 216 people Wells Fargo evicted and the services they received from nonprofits. My lovely wife Kathy is one of them.

Thank you very much for reading this article. And think of the $2,000,000.00 in eviction court costs that could be used for the poor, in addition to the millions more eviction-related dollars spent in mental health facilities, relocation costs, and homeless shelters.


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