Community advocates in Hunters Point are crying foul over paternalistic new rules that public housing tenants must live by if they want to move into the new units replacing the Hunters View housing complex.
The 31 pages of “house rules” (see below) regulate everything from guests, smoking and barbecues to festive decorations and shopping carts. Even after the rules were scaled back amid tenant concerns, they are still causing alarm, with move-ins scheduled to begin next month.
For instance, a lengthy section on bedbugs requires tenants to let the housing manager “inspect all luggage, bedding, clothing, and personal property which tenant intends to maintain in the unit or store anywhere in the development premises.” A related rule states that if signs of the blood-sucking pests are detected, the “tenant shall bathe, and after bathing, only wear clothes that have been laundered as required by the eradication process.”
“They wouldn’t dare tell white people when to bathe, would they?” complained Tessie Ester, head of the Hunters View tenants’ association. “I am a grandmother. Don’t treat me like a child.”
Other rules ban barbecues, loitering, outdoor drinking, medical marijuana and giving keys to house guests, who may visit only as permitted by the lease.
The rules, some of which mirror state laws or existing public housing rules, were presented Tuesday by a representative of the John Stewart Co. during a community meeting. The developer is rebuilding the Hunters View public housing complex under San Francisco’s ambitious Hope SF program. The program was launched in 2007 to rebuild eight poorly maintained and crime-plagued public housing sites with one-to-one replacement of public housing units and a combination of additional affordable and market-rate housing.
Ester said prospective tenants are upset over the rules and don’t want to sign them, but fear the consequences.
“We find this discrimination,” Ester said. “Nobody has rules like these.”
But Jack Gardner, president of John Stewart Co. called the rules “pretty standard” and said they plan to manage the “market-rate quality” units in a “highly professional way.”
“There is nothing discriminatory about any of the housing rules,” Gardner said. But he allowed there was time to make some changes.
“We’re open to their suggestions and comments,” Gardner said.
Tenants should begin occupying the first 25 units in mid-December. Eighty-two more are expected to be completed in May 2013. This initial phase cost $75 million, paid for by a combination of state, federal, city and private investment.
Meanwhile other public housing rebuilds are moving forward. Last month. Mayor Ed Lee celebrated the receipt of $600,000 in federal funding to help rebuild two other public housing sites, the 785-unit Sunnydale public housing complex and the 606-unit Potrero site. At the time, Lee called Hope SF “a bold step” that will “transform our city’s most distressed public housing sites into thriving communities.”
And that is how Gardner sees it.
“Tenants are psyched to get into them,” he said of the units.