Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Crime & Emergencies
Published on September 06, 2016
D.A.'s Office Awards $30K To Strengthen Neighborhoods

Livable City is putting its $3,000 grant towards boosting participation in Sunday Streets in the Western Addition this Sunday. (Photo: San Francisco FYI net)

This article, written by Jonathan Newman, was originally published in Central City Extra's September 2016 issue (pdf). You can find the newspaper distributed around area cafes, nonprofits, City Hall offices, SROs and other residences—and in the periodicals section on the fifth floor of the Main Library.

The district attorney’s office has awarded 10 Neighborhood Justice Fund grants to raise crime prevention awareness and build community strength through public events. The grants, up to $3,000 each, were announced Aug. 17th and totaled $29,974.

Two grantees have a distinct presence in the Tenderloin—Glide, the newly minted brand under which Glide Memorial Church conducts a wealth of community programs, and Livable City, a nonprofit that promotes innovations in transportation, open space and accessible neighborhoods. 

Neighborhood Justice Fund monies come from restitution payments made by people found culpable of low-level misdemeanors in the 10 neighborhood courts District Attorney George Gascón initiated in 2012. The first-time offenders can atone for any harm through community work and fines, thereby avoiding a criminal record.

Glide’s grant of $2,992 will support the work of its Women’s Center and its Center for Social Justice, which Aug. 21st debuted an eight-week workshop on human trafficking. To promote the workshop, photographs of sex trade and slavery victims were displayed at Sunday morning services.

“It helps people to see the faces of the victims,” says Stephanie Gonzales, the Women’s Center’s advocacy and outreach coordinator. “We encourage the workshop participants to name these victims, to personalize them as their daughters and sons, to restore their humanity. Part of the great difficulty for victims is the dehumanization. They live in constant fear of harm. They are told their families will be harmed if they try to break away.”

Livable City will use its $3,000 grant to hire and train neighborhood residents in support of Sunday Streets. Livable City had hoped to get the grant in time to recruit Tenderloin residents for the TL Sunday Streets, but the July 10th event came and went before the awards were announced.

Now, it will use the funds to hire Western Addition residents for that community’s Sept. 11th Sunday Streets. Katy Birnbaum, director of the eight-year old Sunday Streets program, will be working with SuccessSF and the Western Addition Assistance Center to recruit and hire ambassadors.

“We’ve found it’s a great boost for the event when merchants and residents are directly invited to participate by their friends and neighbors,” Birnbaum said.

Despite such joyful civic celebrations, crime remains a pervasive city problem. Last year, the number of car break-ins in San Francisco increased 47 percent, an average of 66 a day citywide. 

Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District and the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association both plan to develop and distribute auto burglary prevention materials to tourists, merchants and residents with their grants. 

And Treasure Island YMCA will install security lighting in its parking lot and around its building to deter auto break-ins. 

Another human trafficking education project is being mounted by Chinatown’s Gum Moon Women’s Residence/Asian Women’s Resource Center with help from the Justice Fund grant. Bilingual education classes for the center’s immigrant population, with the public invited,will draw attention to the dangers of this modern twist on the ancient evil of buying and selling human beings. 

Bayview students moving from elementary to middle school will get extra help with that difficult transition, thanks to the grant to Urban Ed Academy. Counselors in the Junior Mentor Leadership Academy are developing a program targeted to these students’ needs.

Other neighborhood projects strengthen their communities with public events: Bayview/Ingleside Boys and Girls Club is sponsoring a 5K “FunRun” at John McLaren Park followed by a health fair for neighborhood residents. In the Mission, the Second Chance Youth Program of the Central American Resource Center will teach at-risk Latino youth the rudiments of drum therapy to reduce aggressive behavior and connect with affirming cultural activities.

And Community Grows, in the Western Addition, will complete 10 patio and community garden projects at Plaza East Apartments on Eddy Street with all food produced shared among families living nearby.

The district attorney’s office, which awards the Neighborhood Justice Fund grants annually, received 34 proposals for 2016. Next year’s grant cycle begins March 2017. More info: Jackson Gee, director of Neighborhood Courts, [email protected].