A new future for San Francisco's forgotten neighborhood in the Bayview. Joe Rosato Jr. reports.
The view from Angel Zinn’s new home marks two planes of her life.
From her tidy new front room she looked out on the dilapidated Hunters View federal housing project where she grew up. The same view also offered startlingly dramatic vistas of the bay, leaving her feeling as though she’d moved someplace other than the neighborhood she’d lived her entire life.
“When I’m in the house, it doesn’t feel like I’m in West Point, honestly,” Zinn said, leaning into the window.
In truth, Zinn had only moved down the street from her previous unit in the Hunters View federal housing project. She was among the first who moved into 25 newly-built homes, which replaced run down public housing built just after World War II.
“Brand new,” said Zinn, eyeing her living room and kitchen. “The first person to ever stay here. I love that.”
The new development marked completion of the first phase of the Hunters View project, which will result in a total of 107 completed units by May. The project marks the first of five public housing sites set to be redeveloped by San Francisco’s HOPE SF housing initiative.
“We should be able to provide housing,” said Olson Lee, director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing, “whether it’s public housing or affordable housing that everybody’s mother should be able to live in.”
By the time the Hunters View project is done, it will include large swaths of open space, parks and a community center. It’s a stark contrast to the old Hunters View, considered one of the city’s most violent neighborhoods.
“We started not knowing where we were going to end, on a mission to figure out how can we redevelop public housing?” Olson said. “And we’re going to do it differently than just tearing it down.”
So far the city has pledged $95 million toward revamping the city’s public housing stock with the federal government kicking in the rest. But city officials said it will take an infusion of more than $250 million to continue revamping federal housing in Visitacion Valley, Potrero Hill and other parts of Bayview-Hunters Point.
“We finished the first phase of the first phase,” Olson said. “We proved to people we could do it. But it really is a very long road.”
Olson said the city has so far made good on its promise not to displace previous residents, and to offer them homes in the new buildings.
The walls of Alice Gutierrez’ brand new living room were decorated with pictures of her sons -- all five of them. Like Zinn, she was among families winning a lottery to move into the new Hunters View development. The five-bedroom home meant almost all of her sons would have their own room. And though the new home was just blocks from her old home, she said her boys already felt safer.
“They said ‘now we can go outside? I said ‘yeah,’” Gutierrez said. “They said ‘We like our house, can we keep it forever?’ I said ‘Yeah, forever.’”