Bayview housing project receives internet
California First Lady attends launch to gather ideas
for statewide use
California First Lady Maria Shriver attended the inaugral launch
of Bayview's Griffith community WI/FI yesterday, with Director
of the Mayors Office of Community Development, Dwayne Jones,
at her side.
By Pat Murphy
May 16, 2006
The Alice Griffith Housing Project yesterday became the first
low-income housing site in the nation to receive internet wireless
California First Lady Maria Shriver attended the launch to gather
ideas for state efforts to close the digital divide, known as
California Connect aims to enroll working families across the
state in affordable internet use.
"I look forward to working with you and your team as you
connect San Francisco," Shriver told Mayor Newsom.
"Everything is ahead of its time in San Francisco but we're
all one state - we're all one community," stated Shriver.
Launched as the second phase of the City's Communities of Opportunity
program, wireless internet connection is delivered to Griffith
residents at a rate 58 times faster than DSL, reported technician
Installation of 17 connection points within the Bayview neighborhood
overcomes broadband redlining by major service providers, Pozar
"There is a big problem in this area because there essentially
is a redline from getting broadband access," stated Pozar.
WI/FI expert Tim Pozar
"If you try to go to any of the incumbents like Comcast,
or SBC, ATT, they're going to say no.
"They're not going to provide access out here."
Access the City now provides to Griffith tenants "is 58
to 100 times more powerful than DSL connection," Pozar added.
The program enables residents to acquire computers.
In April, more than 250 low cost laptop and desktop computers
were purchased or earned by residents in and around Alice Griffith
via sweat equity, Newsom's staff reported. by. The mayor distributed
additional new computers to residents yesterday.
Training in computer and internet use is an essential element
of the project, one resident pointed out.
"They're constantly working with us to make sure that they
set up classes so people not only have computers but that they
have the education and the training behind it to be able to access
it," reported Alice Griffith Tenants Association president
Dwayne Jones, director of the Communities of Opportunity (COO)
program, reflected on COO progress since it opened in 2005.
"All of the things we say should happen in neighborhoods
was actually beginning to happen" following launch on October
6 2005, Jones told the Sentinel.
It aims to deliver onsite City and community service enrollment
at centers slated to open throughout San Francisco.
Selection of those services are determined by neighborhood residents
themselves, said Jones.
For implementation faster than government could provide, Jones
turned to private sector assistance.
"Many of systems government operate almost disincentivize
"Take public housing for example. If the government aids
public housing residents in accessing good jobs, then the second
they hit a particular income threshold they are evicted out of
Creating trust funds to protect that income - while remaining
in public housing -- for future homeownership is only one example
of philanthropy prowess.
"Philanthropy helps us helps build that resource much quicker.
"To talk about homeownership to low-wealth communities without
having those resources is in many ways disingenuous.
"We believe that moving families that are in crisis, families
that are fragile, and families that are working poor, up a continuum
really addresses the concentration of poverty in many of these
"We're really looking for philanthropy to step up and help
us close that gap to provide the glue of resources necessary to
institutionalize the transformation."
The Evelyn and Walter Hass, Jr. Foundation, with help of the
San Francisco Foundation, facilitated early foundation forum discussions
on the proposal.
Those talks drew support from thirteen additional regional and
Bayview was chosen as the initial site. It was a mammoth undertaking
in a neighborhood where unfolding development capital burgeons
to $1 billion.
"You have major projects like the redevelopment of Hunters
Point Shipyard, the Stadium Mall, Third Street light rail, the
continuation of development at Mission Bay, the UCSF campus, and
Home Depot coming on board.
"We estimate on the low end about $1 billion worth of economic
catalyst to occur within the next ten to 15 years in this low-income
"How do you really harness all of those opportunities for
contracting, job creation to really leverage in-hand service provision?
"So the big flip for the effort is really about not thinking
about our social justice and social services programs, but really
looking at it from a hardcore place-based strategy that focuses
on people and places.
"And so we have four nodes throughout the Southeast sector
that disproportionately have folks engaged in the juvenile justice
system, the foster care system, and the family and child welfare
"With that data we found what we really needed to do in
those particular areas to turn the tide in those particular neighborhoods.
"The effort really takes best practices from across the
country. We've looked at the Children's Zone in New York, the
Jacobs Foundation in San Diego, the Center for Working Families
in Seattle, the Youth for Jobs in Boston.
"We've looked at these efforts and really tweaked them for
San Francisco appropriateness to really bring about the level
of change that needs to actually happen in this community."
Armed with that data, Jones delivered it to Baview residents
- and it was the Baview residents themselves who called the shots.
"It is governed by the residents themselves.
"They actually go through the process themselves of identifying
the community organizations they want to run the services there
"All of the flyering and the outreach was done exclusively
by the residents themselves.
"They took a tremendous among of ownership to the point
they have actually produced a DVD of their entire experience -
from the identification of the building they wanted all the way
to it being relocated by barge.
"They formed a Tenants Association which determined which
strategies are going to be utilized for each of those respective
"They inform government in terms of the services they want
for the quarter and we then go and identify organizations which
can deliver those services.
"We then bring the potential services providers in front
of them and they make the selection based on the presentations
of those prospective community based organizations.
"These folks have been here for quite some time and lack
of successes were fresh in their minds. There was a greater government
accountability system that exists because there was more of a
peer-to-peer selection system.
"Within the first six months we saw crime drop by 25% in
the neighborhood and employment increase by about 25%. "We
saw a significant decrease in truancy."
The Alice Griffith Opportunity Center differs from past community
service attempts by delivering onsite entre into services deemed
best by residents.
"The Opportunity Center changes services every quarter.
One quarter may be opportunities for seniors, another quarter
may be youth services and connecting youth to opportunities throughout
the City. Another quarter is adult focus on education in employment
and training. Another quarter is what we call Benefits which is
making sure that all of the residents in the area are connected
to all of the things that stabilize the community - whether it
be public safety, transportation to better food and groceries.
"We began by dropping the Green Building on one of the empty
lots that were on this particular development and having that
become the Opportunity Center there."
The Green Building was originally known as the "Nowhouse"
green building demonstration project. It was built on SBC Parking
Lot A to showcase energy efficient and environmentally friendly
features to homeowners, architects, developers, engineers, and
to the public.
The 2,700 square foot, fifty-nine ton, two-story building included
features maximizing the use of daylight (reducing energy consumption
and potential for mold and mildew), utilizing an insulation system
that reduces noise, and a ventilation system that brings in cool
air when indoor temperatures rise. In addition, the home consisted
of less toxic products and renewable materials including bamboo
and cork- applied to create a healthier indoor environment.
"We have an unprecedented number of city departments involved
in this effort.
"The city departments, much like many of the community organizations
that we fund, have been operating in silos - not really talking
to each other.
"So for once we actually have a business plan that we're
all operating from to coordinate all of those particular activities.
"In concert with that we also have philanthropy doing the
"Many of the foundations granted seed money to begin to
rebuild the trust that this particular community has not had in
government because of its outcomes and because of its overall
"We were able to do things immediately like build opportunity
centers, make sure that at least 80% of the workforce that build
these opportunity centers came from the Bayview.
"All of the things we say should happen in neighborhoods
is actually beginning to happen."