Bernal Fire Victims, Now Homeless, Reveal Support System Shortcomings

hotelfire

MissionLocal carried an important story yesterday about two Bernal neighbors who were displaced by the June Cole Hardware fire, who are now homeless.

Kimberley Walley and her husband Henry Texada were living in the Graywood Hotel at the corner of Mission and 29th Street when the building was badly damaged in the fire. Since then, they’ve received several rounds of financial assistance from the City and private donors, but the couple has still had a hard time finding and staying in places to live. They’ve been kicked out of a few SROs for various behavior-related issues, and they’ve declined offers to move into shelters.

Laura Waxmann from MissionLocal writes:

Ben Amyes, the [San Francisco Human Services Agency’s] emergency response coordinator, declined to comment on the couple’s case for confidentiality reasons.

“We were working on finding SROs for all of the tenants, and I have placed everyone that I have had the ability to place,” Aymes said. “There are extenuating circumstances [regarding Walley and Texada] that I’m not able to go into.”

Walley said that she has a criminal background including a charge for assault that landed her in jail for nine months. This happened before moving into the Graywood in March, 2011. She also said she suffers from bipolar disorder and depression, but visits a therapist regularly.

Despite this history she found a room at the Graywood Hotel in 2011 through a re-entry program, NoVa, run by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in partnership with the Sheriff’s Department.

Gerald Miller, the center’s director of community based services, did not work with Walley but said that she was likely a client five years ago. Upon hearing of her plight, Miller said that mental illness and a criminal background are not reasons for keeping clients seeking SRO residencies unhoused.

“[Those] issues don’t stop anyone from getting SRO housing,” said Miller. However, other factors, such as a limited housing stock and a client’s consistent refusal to comply with the terms of the agencies attempting to house them, could be a reasons why they end up on the streets.

The whole article is an essential, gut-wrenching read, because it underscores the sad truth that while we can be pretty good at providing economic support to people in need, we’re generally really bad at managing the mental health issues that are often a root cause of homelessness.

PHOTO: Fire-damaged Graywood Hotel, August 2016 by Telstar Logistics

RIP Bernal Neighbor KC Jones

KCJones

Bernalwood is saddened to report that Neighbor KC Jones, a proud resident of Bernal Heights and vibrant member of our community, passed away last week following a bicycle accident.

Bernie Hirschbein shared a lovely tribute to KC on the Wild Side West Facebook page:

My best friend…my de-facto brother KC passed away last Thursday. It still seems so unreal, and I am so very devastated.

On Friday evening 6 weeks ago we were at El Rio eating the free oysters and having a couple drinks, just like always, and the next day I learned he was in a bicycle accident and was at SF General. I rushed over and he was just coming out of surgery. He had suffered very severe brain damage and was in a coma, and he never came back.

KC was an amazingly vital person, so intelligent and kind. He was just so very special. I learned of his passing while Wendy and I were having Shabbat dinner in Tel Aviv, Israel with my lifelong friend Joel Dzodin, his wife Suzanne, his daughter and son-in-law, and his young granddaughter. It was comforting to be among friends, but nothing could really ease my feelings of loss.

I still think of calling him to share the nice bottle of wine I brought back from Israel. I still think of calling him to help me with computer issues. It’s just so unreal that he is gone.

My deepest condolences to his wife Beth, his daughter Hana and his son Sam, and to all the other family members and friends that loved him so much. My life will never be the same.

This hits close to home for Bernalwood as well. Neighbor KC was active in Bernalwood comment threads, and your Bernalwood editor always appreciated his calm demeanor and keen sense of humor. We send condolences to Neighbor KC’s family and friends.

PHOTO: KC Jones via Facebook

RIP Bernal Neighbor Thea Anderson, 24

theaander

Neighbor Leigh brings Bernalwood heartbreaking news about Neighbor Thea Anderson, age 24, who died last month after a collision in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Neighbor Thea had been working as volunteer at a New Zealand school for children with intellectual disabilities.

Neighbor Leigh says:

I’m emailing on behalf of dear friends of mine, Consuelo and Thor Anderson, who are fellow Bernalites. They wanted to share the news of their daughter death a few weeks ago. Thea Faust Anderson died the day after her 24th birthday in a car crash in New Zealand, where she had been living and working.

Thea and her older sister Madeleine were born and raised in Bernal Heights, spending countless hours at the Bernal branch library, exploring the hill, and gaining newfound independence walking to Holly Park on their own. Consuelo remembers trick or treating with them back when there was only one cafe on Cortland.

As a fellow parent raising kids here in Bernal, I can imagine all the memories, milestones, and experiences Consuelo and Thor shared with Thea as she blossomed from her Bernal roots into an adventurous, vibrant and deeply caring young woman.

Here is a link to a beautiful obituary for her in last Sunday’s Chronicle.

There will be a celebration of Thea’s life at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin Street, San Francisco, on Saturday, July 23rd at noon. Gifts in memory of Thea may be sent to the Thea Faust Anderson Fund for Dance, Mills College, Office of Institutional Advancement, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, California, 94613, or online.

Please join Bernalwood in extending  our deepest condolences to Neighbors Consuelo, Thor, and Madeleine, on behalf of our Bernal community.

thiaandersonphiabeach

PHOTO: Top, Thea Faust Anderson. Below, Thea Anderson at Phia Beach, NZ, via The Dominion Post.

This Guy Remembers Growing Up on Mission Street During the 1940s

mrtiedeman

Robert Tiedeman Jr., photographed on June 25, 2016

A few weeks ago, your Bernalwood editor wandered into the fabulous Secession Art and Design store on Mission Street near Valencia to say hello to Neighbor Eden Stein, Secession’s equally fabulous proprietor. As fate would have it, Bernalwood dropped in just as Mr. Robert Tiedeman Jr. was visiting as well.

Neighbor Eden introduced us, explaining that Robert is actually a Bernal neighbor emeritus, because he was born and raised on Bernal’s stretch of Mission Street, in an apartment above 3471 Mission .

Robert explained that his parents purchased the entire building for $7500 in 1937 with a $250 downpayment. (That works out to about $125,000 in 2016 dollars, with $4200 down.) His dad ran a store on the ground floor, where Ankor Borei is now located. The store was called Tiedeman Appliance, and here’s a photocopied photo of it:

Tiedemanappliance

And here’s what it looks like today, in Google Street View:

3471mission

To capture more of the history lesson, Bernalwood deployed our mobile video recording system and interviewed Robert Tiedeman about his memories of La Lengua during the 1940s:

He also shared this story written down by his mother, describing what it was like for a new merchant setting up shop on Mission Street during the late 1930s:

Welcome and Congratulations — NOT

We had just completed our move to our new building on Mission Street. This consisted of a store building and two six room flats; it cost $7,350, $250 down which we borrowed from my sister and her husband. Times were so tough (it was the end of 1937) that the real estate agent took his commission from the seller on the installment plan. We had two boys; George had turned four in November and Kent would be one in February 1938.

The store had once been a bakery, and the windows in the back of the Window alcove were many-paned and ugly. They would have to go, we decrded. Bob and I were standing in the store, glad we were there, but also pretty scared as to how we were going to fare. We were the San Francisco Regina Agents, so got busmess through that listing in the phone book, but what other business would we get and how would the neighborhood be for customers?

As I stood in front of the store, I saw the accordion music teacher from across the street and his brother in the barbershop next door start across the street in our direction. “Gee, Bob,” I said, “I’ll bet they are coming over to wish us well and make us feel welcome in the neighborhood.”

The Antoninis approached our building and came into the store. They started to talk, first one, then the other. “Well, of course, you should know, this side of Mission Street gets no business; our side is much better for business.” “Yes, we get the morning sun ‘ and people like to walk down our side of the street.” The elder brother shook his head dolefully, “You’ll never make it over here on the wrong side of the street.”

“No, never,” his brother echoed, and back across to the good side of Mission Street they went.

Bob said, “You and your ideas . . . some congratulations.”

Years later, the accordion music teacher moved to our side of Mission. I wanted to remind him that it was the poor side of Mission, but we had become friends, so I just made him feel welcome.

PHOTOS: Robert Tiedeman Jr., photographed by Bernalwood

Bernal Neighbor Eddie Ramirez Honored as Veteran of the Year

chu.ramirez.june29

Last week, Assemblymember David Chiu invited Bernal neighbor Eduardo Ramirez to come to Sacramento.

Neighbor Eduardo is a resident of Cortlandia, and David Chiu was honoring him as Veteran of the Year for Assembly District 17, in recognition of both Neighbor Eduardo’s long service career and his post-retirement efforts to assist other veterans. Here’s the announcement from Assemblymember Chiu’s office:

Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) this week honored United States Air Force veteran and Bernal Heights resident Eduardo “Eddie” Ramirez as the 2016 Veteran of the Year for the 17th Assembly District.

Eddie served in the United States Air Force for over 20 years and is a veteran of Operation Watch, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the Cold War. His distinguished military career has earned him numerous awards and decorations throughout his tenure in the Air Force.

Eddie has remained committed to serving his fellow veterans in San Francisco, acting as the founder and CEO of OneVet OneVoice, an organization that refers veterans to health care services. Additionally, he created the San Francisco Veterans Town Hall Collaborative and the San Francisco Veterans Film Festival. Eddie is the co-owner of the Excelsior’s Mama Art Cafe, a neighborhood cafe providing artistic space and entrepreneurship opportunities to veterans.

Eddie is a passionate, dedicated, and committed leader whose work has truly benefited our San Francisco’s veterans and is most deserving of his selection as Assembly District 17’s Veteran of the Year.

Bravo, Neighbor Eduardo, and congratulations!

PHOTO: via @DavidChiu

Scenes from the 2016 Cortland “Summer” Solstice Stroll

2016-06-23 19.08.50

The sun was out, the fog stalled over Twin Peaks, and last Thursday evening many smiling Bernalese friends and families headed to Cortland Avenue to partake of the ancient ritual of the Solstice Stroll.

2016-06-23 19.06.02

This being summer, of course, was a little chilly. So Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter insisted we head to Pinhole Coffee, where we’d heard there would be Japanese-style curry. The rumors proved true, the curry was warm, hearty, and delicious, and the Cub Reporter was happy and fortified:

cubncurry

One BIG news flash occurred when we realized that celebrity Bernal neighbor Terry Milne…

terrymilne

…. may have actually been separated at birth from his imperial highness Emperor Norton (aka Bernal neighbor Joseph Amster):

2016-06-23 19.57.26Who knew???!!

Although, in the realm of rockstars, no one could touch the little guy we saw jamming with the big kids in front of Healthy Spirits. He was totally feeling it:

Thanks for making it happen, Bernal Business Alliance!

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

On the Bright Side, Neighbor Michael Nolan Celebrated His 75th Birthday This Week

nolanatparty

Okay, let’s be straight with each other: This was a rough week. There was that nasty five-alarm fire on Saturday, of course, but that wasn’t the only thing. On Sunday, the Warriors botched the NBA Finals. There was also that shitshow SFMTA meeting David Campos convened on Monday, where a bunch of microphone-hogging nativists screamed that that taking a faster Muni bus is something only a gentrifier would do. Then, to top it all off, Great Britain decided it wants to be more like Texas. Sigh.

One thing made all this bearable, and that was the fact that this week, Neighbor Michael Nolan of Elsie Street also celebrated his 75th birthday.

Neighbor Michael has been in Bernal for a very long time, having arrived on our hill during the wave of post-hippie colonization that took place here during the early 1970s. Indeed, the ultimate proof of Neighbor Michael’s old skool credentials is the fact you can find even him in that seminal group photo taken in 1978 during the original construction of the Esmeralda slides:

bernal-1978-slidecrew2x

In Bernalese terms, being present in that photo is sort of like being one of the people pictured in that skimpy wooden boat with George Washington as he crossed the Delaware River to swipe Trenton from the British in 1776. Serious. Seminal. Moment.

Anyway, this week Neighbor Michael turned 75, and since he’s still in pretty good shape, he threw himself a big 75th birthday party at Bissap Baobab in The Mission, and filled the place up with a lively cross-section of his local friends.

Neighbor Sarah Rogers wrote a perfect tribute on Facebook that explained why so many people were so thrilled to celebrate the occasion:

Happy 75th birthday/Diamond Jubilee to Michael David Nolan, mayor of Elsie Street, workout-on-the-hill-er, master of new technologies and social media, genealogist/historian, neighborhood activist, slide-builder, former supervisor candidate, constant maker of new friends, Carnaval devotee, and about a billion other things that I can’t remember because my memory is not as good as yours and that all add up to your being the youngest 75-year-old in the history of the world. I think you should go for 75 more.

That sums it up nicely. Plus, even at 75, Neighbor Michael still has the moves. Watch it:

Happy birthday, neighbor, and thanks for giving us something to cheer for this week.

PHOTO: Top, Michael Nolan at his 75th birthday party, by Jack Pitts