Tenants Rebel Against Slum Like Conditions


root - Posted on 28 May 2007

Tenants of the Rose Hotel in San Francisco announced on Wednesday December 20 the filing of a lawsuit against Mercy Housing California due to serious housing code violations.

by Lynda Carson/Published on Indy Media Newswire

San Francisco -- On Wednesday, December 20, 2006,
tenants of the Rose Hotel held a press conference in
front of San Francisco's City Hall, to announce the
filing of a lawsuit against Mercy Housing California,
due to serious infestations of mice, cockroaches,
fleas, bedbugs, and other serious Housing Code
violations, at the residential building they reside
in.

The ten Plaintiffs of the Rose Hotel, including
African-Americans, Caucasians, and Hispanics, spoke out
against the slum like conditions at their residential
building in San Francisco, then filed suit against the
nonprofit housing organization, as tourists from
around the world flocked to the city for the festive
holiday season.

Diane Spade moved into the Rose Hotel around March of
1997, and says that there’s been problems with mice and
cockroaches in the building ever since she moved in.

"I applied with the San Francisco Housing Authority,
to move into the Rose Hotel, and there’s been mice
running loose in the building ever since I moved in
here. I have to use sticky pads to trap them, and then
I call management to have the mice removed from my
room. I believe there’s a lack of over sight in the way
these nonprofits operate, and I believe that something
needs to be done to get them to do their job
properly," said Spade.

According to documents filed with the court, the
tenants at the Rose Hotel have made complaints about
defects in their rooms, and the mice and cockroach
infestations, and how the owners and managers have
failed to do repairs, or remedy the situation
properly.

The tenants are claiming that they have been
endangered by the illegal uninhabitable conditions
they are living under in the Rose Hotel, and are
asking in excess of $25,000 per Plaintiff, in hope
that it persuades the landlord (Mercy Housing) to come
into compliance with state and local housing codes,
and to make the building habitable for all of the
low-income residents.

Since moving into the Rose Hotel back around October
of 1998, Diane Best says she has been stabbed by one
of her neighbors and has had mice problems for the
past 2, and a half years.

"I was stabbed by my
neighbor Robert Coronado, around 2 years ago, and he
still resides in the building. I don't know why they
still let him stay here, but I think they should have
removed him for being violent. Since living here, I've
been sexually molested by one of the clerks working at
the Rose Hotel while in an elevator one day, and I've
had mice and cockroach problems in my room for the
past 2 to 3 years. I don't like living here, and I can
only hope that things get better," said Best.

Attorney John Murcko, who represents the tenants at
the Rose Hotel, says, "This hotel has serious problems
with vermin and the owners do not care about the bad
conditions. Also, there are problems with backed up
toilets, backed up sinks, cracks in the walls,
defective windows, and holes in the walls that are not
being repaired. These people are very low-income, have
notified management about the problems, and are not
being respected."

It was wheelchair bound Larry Richards, a disabled
tenant at the Rose Hotel, who placed himself at risk
by organizing the tenants to rebel against the
conditions they are living under.

"The most important thing that I wish to say is that
most people expect their tax dollars to be used
properly, and to be used as promised. That is not the
case at the Rose Hotel. For seven years I have lived
in a building where the doors and windows are not
working properly, and I was given a blood soaked
mattress to sleep upon when moving in. I do not have a
shower capable of accommodating my wheelchair, even
though the building was supposed to accommodate
disabled persons. It does not. The housing oversight
system is so corrupt that this building was remodeled
improperly at great expense to the taxpayers, and HUD
and the San Francisco Housing Authority does not give
a damn. Others in the building are being intimidated
and under pressure to not join in with our lawsuit,
but I want it to expose what really is going on here,"
said Richards.

Jasper Brenner works for Mercy Housing at the front
desk of the Rose Hotel, and said, "I work for Mercy
Housing, have no involvement in the lawsuit that has
been filed, and have nothing to say about the
conditions here."

The nonprofit housing organizations are not known for
being tolerant of those who would dare to tarnish
their do good image, with tales of corruption,
stabbings, molestations, slum like conditions, or mice
and cockroach infestations in their buildings.

Since the demonization of public housing occurred, the
nonprofits have been leading the charge to privatize
the functions of subsidized housing in America, and in
an effort to save their image from being tarnished
like public housing, they have done their best to keep
their low-income residents from speaking out about the
problems in their buildings.

The Rose Hotel is just one piece of Mercy Housing's
"$2 billion real estate empire," originally founded by
the Sisters of Mercy back in 1981, with around 20,000
housing units being developed since then, while
employing over 1,150 people across the nation.

According to the San Francisco's County Assessors
records, Mercy Housing has developed around 15 to 20
properties in San Francisco for low-income housing,
including such properties as the Rose Hotel (74
units), the Howard Street Apartments (30 units),
Columbia Park Apartments (50 units), Dudley Apartments
(74 units), and the 7th Street Family Housing (57
units).

Little by little, the tenants under control of the
nonprofit housing organizations are over coming
obstacles and are starting to find their voice, to
speak out against the lack of habitable conditions and
blatant abuse of state and local laws occurring in
some of the properties run by nonprofit housing
organizations, due to political connections and a lack
of oversight in these federally subsidized housing
locations.

In Oakland, the tenants of Effies House, managed by
the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation
(EBALDC), have been speaking out about conditions in
their building. During October of 2006, a young
teenage mother gained public attention when she
refused to stay in a cockroach-infested unit in that
building, and forced the nonprofit to move herself and
an infant, into a unit without the bugs. In defiance
of state law, Effies House (21 units) does not have a
Resident Manager, and in late December 2006, the
tenants were shocked to receive a memo from EBALDC
employee Robin Smith, telling them that no one would
be around for around a week or more to sweep the
floors, take care of the trash, or manage the
building, and security problems have become a
nightmare at this location as a direct result of
blatant negligence.

During August 2005, 43 tenants at the California Hotel
in Oakland, filed suit and spoke out against nonprofit
developer Oakland Community Housing, for major
infestations of bedbugs, rats, and cockroaches in
their residential building.

During October 2006, it was exposed that 174
low-income public housing families were permanently
displaced by a Hope VI project being spearheaded by
nonprofit housing developer EBALDC, at Oakland's
Coliseum Gardens public housing units.

And, in mid December 2006, Bridge Housing, a nonprofit
developer who manages some public housing units that
have been privatized in West Oakland, have come under
fire from the community and local politicians for
being out of touch with what the community wants in
the retail space, for the Mandella Gateway apartment
complex.

During recent years the Berkeley Housing Authority has
placed much of it's public housing units into the
hands of nonprofit Affordable Housing Associates, and
the tenants have repeatedly spoken out about the lack
of repairs occurring in their buildings since the
takeover.

Not all nonprofit housing organizations are bad, but
more and more tenants are calling out for more
oversight, over the activities of these nonprofit
organizations that are out of touch with community
needs, and have left them displaced from their
housing, or stuck in housing units not fit to house
human beings.


Larry Richards may be reached at
booleanpravda2000@yahoo.com


Attorney John Murcko may be reached at 510/465-2241


Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule@yahoo.com

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