The life of 60-year-old grandmother Laura Gi turned into a nightmare last June when the father of two of her grandchildren Adrian Landers unexpectedly visited her apartment at Bernal Dwellings public housing with a gun in his packback.
Gi, known as Mama Gi at the complex said she was unaware of Landers being in her apartment and unaware that he was carring a gun. “Ever since, I have been facing an eviction charge.”
Despite Gi’s protest, the Bernal Dwellings public housing managing agent, McCormack Baron Ragan, filed an eviction charge against Gi in August.
Late Friday both parties agreed to a settlement to avoid a more costly and time consuming trial scheduled to start Monday, April 20.
Gi said she agreed to leave the Bernal Dwellings in 90 days but the eviction charge against her was dropped. (In June Gi said that she agreed to the settlement because she thought she could move elsewhere and that the Housing Authority now says she will have to reapply. She said she will be homeless by the end of the month.)
“This is hard. This decision doesn’t just erase the difficult time my family has suffered in the past years since we got the eviction charge,” she said.
The management company’s lawyer, Francisco G. Torres, said when the case began, that Gi broke the tenant agreement that prohibits firearms on the property. The agreement also stipulates that tenants be held responsible for any criminal activity of a household member, guest or other person under their control. The managers may terminate the tenant’s lease for such activity regardless of whether there is an arrest or conviction.
Court records show McCormack has filed six eviction charges against Bernal Dwellings public housing tenants since May 2008 for alleged criminal or drug activity committed by the tenants, their household members or guests.
The firm won four eviction cases, Gi’s case was resolved with a settlement and one case is still underway.
Gi’s case was unusual because she is an active member of the tenant organization and its members signed a petition against her eviction. Gi works as a custodian at the San Francisco Housing Authority.
A source who works at the public housing complex said Gi, who has six children and 37 grandchildren, was known in the Bernal Dwellings community as someone who had always given a hand to help other tenants in difficult times.
“Even if you are stranger, when you look starving and Mama Gi sees you, she will offer you food,” the source said. “When you are trapped in a gun fight among gangsters, she will open her house door to get you inside so that you are safe.”
Gi doesn’t deserve to be evicted for something she didn’t do, the source said, adding that Gi was a good resident and a leader in the community.
“[The eviction charge] is unjust for Gi,” the source said.
Gi said she was away from home with her husband Leo when Landers arrived to visit his daughters, who usually stay at her home in Bernal Dwellings at Harrison and Cesar Chavez streets.
“I was unaware that Landers came as I did not invite him to come. He is neither a household member in my house nor on my list of guests,” said Gi, who is an immigrant from American Samoa. “So I did not know that he put a gun in my house when he left. But all I know is now I have to shoulder all the consequences.”
“An eviction charge is very harsh for me because Bernal Dwellings is my home,” Gi said, adding that the public housing manager had offered her a place in Hunter’s Point or Alemany, but she turned down those offers.
“Why [did] I reject the offer?,” she said referring to the earlier offers. “First, I believed I didn’t do anything wrong. Second, if you already lived in a public housing, and then get evicted, you will not survive in other public housings. The residents will be rude to you, and your family will be in danger.”
Gi first moved to Bernal Dwellings in 1977. At the time, she said, the high-rise apartment complex was known as a drug-dealing zone. Nevertheless, she fell in love with the community and maintained that most who lived there were poor but honest.
As part of an effort to clean up public housing projects that had deteriorated and become heavy crime scenes, the housing authority demolished the old high rise and replaced it with low-rise units. During that time, Gi moved temporarily to Sunnydale.
In 2001, she moved back into the new Bernal Dwellings. She was eligible to return because she had no criminal record, as required in the tenant agreement.
The town houses and apartments are nicer, but some elderly residents in the neighborhood said crime remains a problem. Joyce Allen-Jones, who lives in Bernal Dwellings and was also a resident before the new construction, said she had seen some 30 murders between 2001 and 2008. Her husband was killed in 2005 and her house was burglarized just before Christmas last year.
Mission Loc@l could not confirm those statistics, but the San Francisco Police Department’s web site shows that in the years 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006, there were 46 homicides in the Mission District.
The tough tenant agreement was part of an effort to reduce crime at the public housing complex.
In the settlement agreement, Gi said she and McCormack also agreed that McCormack could issue an eviction notice should a household member or guest commit crime.
“It’s almost over for us.” Gi said Friday. ” Now we just want to live in peace as we are already old and we hope tenants in Bernal Dwellings could learn something from our case.”
Adrian Landers was mis-identified as Gi’s son-in-law. It has been corrected to identify him as the father of two of her grandchildren.
The original story also reported that the gun was left behind in a back pack and found two days later. Gi says it was found at the time the police entered the house and Landers was in the house at the time. Gi said the police came in the morning when she and her husband were on their way out. They had arrived at home late the night before and were unaware that Landers was upstairs visiting his children.