Fear and desperation
in Western Addition
Residents plead for City assistance
By Elizabeth Pfeffer
June 24, 2006
Residents of the Western Addition called on City officials to
help save their community from unemployment and violence Friday
evening, at a forum sponsored by Bethel A.M.E. Church and the
San Francisco Organizing Project.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, Citybuild Director Chris Iglesias
and Director of the San Francisco Workforce Development Division
Tony Lugo listened soberly as teary-eyed neighbors spoke of the
fear and desperation that has washed over the Western Addition.
"I'm a parent of a 16-year-old daughter," resident
Jolanda Griffin said. "And I don't want her to die in the
This was the common message from parents who hadn't already lost
a child. The other message: Give residents of the Western Addition
A young mother and her two children saw a man shot dead on McAllister
Street, June 2.
"Violence in this neighborhood has gotten out of hand. I'm
tired and I'm only 28 years old," said Latanya Jamerson.
Her 10-year-old and 4-year-old are both in therapy after witnessing
The reason residents shared their stories was not to report crimes,
but to draw attention to the reason for them. That cause, resident
Roy Holden said, is that people can't find work.
Holden brought a picture of his wife and three kids on their
move to San Francisco from Louisiana, for what they thought would
be a better life.
After twelve years in the Western Addition riddled with unemployment,
lay-offs and poor wages, Holden is grasping onto hope that the
City will intervene while his children have already become jaded.
"I really feel one of my children is going to die in the
What do I do? Sell drugs
get your condolences
do I have to bury a kid to leave?"
His family doesn't leave the house after 9 p.m.
"It's a trap," Holden's son once told him. "We're
never going to leave here."
The San Francisco Organizing Project recently conducted six months
of research and surveys on the Western Addition.
Their findings showed that the majority of residents between
ages 18 and 30 are unemployed.
"The people who testified are people who tell the truth
of why the City government should step up," said Supervisor
He committed to join with the community and create a Report Card
for the Western Addition, to provide better monitoring of the
neighborhood's employment record and job access, as well as apply
pressure to businesses, and demand that they hire local residents.
"I keep hearing that in order to stop a bullet it takes
a job," Mirkarimi insisted.
Chris Iglesias from Citybuild, a pilot program training and placing
residents with construction jobs, pledged accountability, promising
to look for ways to increase job accessibility to residents.
Tony Lugo from the Workforce Development Division shared the
"I'm going to tell you that my commitment is that I'm going
to do whatever I can. I am totally in agreement that One Step
doesn't have adequate resources to help you."
With the support of the City officials they called upon, the
residents of the Western Addition are looking forward to change,
and expressed that they will continue to work for the right to
jobs and neighborhood security.