How 'Equal Access' Is Helping Drive Black Renters Out Of Their Neighborhood

About 5,000 people have entered the lottery for the proposed Willie B. Kennedy development in San Francisco’s Western Addition neighborhood. Courtesy of Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation

The city of San Francisco is in a quandry. Like many big cities, it faces an affordability crisis and city leaders are looking for a way to build housing to help low- and middle-income residents to stay in San Francisco.

But one proposal to give current residents of a historically African-American neighborhood help to do that has run afoul of the Obama administration.

Consider the case of Mr. Mack Watson. At 96, he’s a vision of elegance in his freshly pressed ribbon collar shirt, vest and sports coat. He has called San Francisco home since 1947.

“Nothing is like San Francisco. Like the song, I lost my heart in San Francisco,” he says minutes after finishing lunch at the Western Addition Senior Center on a recent day.

But Watson lost more than his heart in San Francisco. He is among thousands of black San Franciscans who are being displaced by gentrification. He can still recall when this neighborhood, the Western Addition, was a hub of African-American life.

“The mom and pop businesses. They’re all gone. Nightclubs and restaurants, all that stuff. Theaters. They all gone,” says Watson.

Watson witnessed first hand as San Francisco’s African-American population plummeted from about 13 percent in 1970 to less than 6 percent today.

He might be gone, too, except that he’s living with his grandson’s family in a house with stairs that are tough on his aging legs.

That’s why he’s applied for a lottery for a brand new 98-unit affordable housing development for seniors partially financed by the federal government. The complex, named for Willie B. Kennedy, a former San Francisco supervisor, is scheduled to open before the end of the year.

The city wants to give current residents, many of them African-American seniors like Watson, something called a “neighborhood preference” in that lottery.

London Breed is a San Francisco supervisor who grew up in the Western Addition. She supports the neighborhood preferences.

“And all we’re doing with neighborhood preference is saying that for the people who live here we’re going to give you a priority, the right of first refusal, you still have to compete in a lottery with other residents of the neighborhood, but you have a better shot,” says Breed.

But officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development said no, you can’t do that. They told the city last month that its neighborhood preference plan would violate federal fair housing laws by limiting equal access and perpetuating segregation in this historically African-American neighborhood.

In other words, the law designed to give African-Americans a fair shake in getting housing is being cited as a reason why they can’t get a preference to stay in the community they’ve called home.

That leaves the city in a tough spot, says Tim Iglesias, a University of San Francisco law professor.

“Yes, there is an irony in this and the city is, in its own sense, trying to turn this neighborhood preferences, which have been used to discriminate, on its head to enable it to help maintain diversity in the city,” says Iglesias.

This issue also divides fair housing advocates. In New York, for example, a fair housing group has filed suit against that city’s policy of using “community preferences,” for affordable housing units saying it perpetuates segregation.

San Francisco officials met recently with HUD to press their case to use neighborhood preferences. They say the neighborhood preference plan is vital to stemming the tide of gentrification that has driven thousands of people of all backgrounds out of the city. The agency agreed to review its decision.

Breed, the city supervisor, says that while she’s optimistic, she’s also realistic.

“It’s not going to reverse the African-American population in San Francisco. It’s not going to reverse the gentrification that’s also happened in the community,” Breed says. “But what it will do is give just a tad bit of hope to some people who are still struggling to stay here.”

Still, time is short. About 5,000 people applied for the complex’s 98 units, and the lottery is scheduled for next week.

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Episode 573: Why Textbook Prices Keep Climbing

Textbooks. Richard Baker/Corbis via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Richard Baker/Corbis via Getty Images

Note: This episode originally aired in October 2014.

Listeners have been asking for years why textbooks are getting so expensive. Prices of new textbooks have been going up faster than clothing, food, cars, and even healthcare. On today’s show we found out why prices won’t stop rising.

We speak to a student who took a course that required a $310 textbook, professors who pick the textbooks that their students have to buy, and a CEO of a textbook company who, it turns out, doesn’t like talking about books. We also venture into the parallel universe of the high school textbook market.

Music: ‘Bout That Live‘ and ‘Road Coffee.’ Find us: Twitter/Facebook.

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Dawes On World Cafe

Dawes’ new, Blake Mills-produced album, We’re All Gonna Die, is out now. Clara Balzary/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Clara Balzary/Courtesy of the artist

  • “One Of Us”
  • “Roll With The Punches”
  • “When The Tequila Runs Out”

The California band Dawes has released several albums of breezy Golden State guitar rock centered on Taylor Goldsmith’s emotionally loaded songs. Those songs are filled with statements that are irresistibly uplifting when heard in a crowd. (Think “anyone that’s making anything new only breaks something else” from “When My Time Comes.”)

Dawes’ fifth album has the true — but still unsettling — title We’re All Gonna Die. It represents a change in sound courtesy of producer Blake Mills, who recently got kudos for producing Alabama Shakes’ latest album, Sound & Color, and who was also Goldsmith’s high-school bandmate. More touches of keyboards and more space are part of the band’s new approach. Below, watch a video from our session that captures this tight and committed band live, and hear the complete session in the player above.

VuHaus VuHaus

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Politics Podcast: It's All About Health – Pneumonia, The Dr. Oz Show, And Child Care

Donald Trump visited the Dr. Oz Show on Thursday to discuss his health and how he tries to stay fit on the campaign trail. AP hide caption

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With around 50 days until Election Day, the NPR Politics team is back to discuss the top political news of this week. That includes Clinton’s return to the campaign trail after taking a few days off due to pneumonia, Trump’s visit to the Dr. Oz show to discuss his health, and the candidates’ plans on child care.

On the podcast:

  • Campaign Reporter Sam Sanders
  • Campaign Reporter Asma Khalid
  • Campaign Reporter Sarah McCammon
  • Political Editor Domenico Montanaro

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Airstrike Kills Senior ISIS Leader: U.S. Says 'Dr. Wa'il' Was Minister Of Information

The Pentagon says that “Dr. Wa’il”, one of ISIS’ most senior leaders who’s also known as Wa’il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad, was killed by a coalition airstrike near Raqqah, Syria. The news comes weeks after an ISIS commander and spokesman was killed in Aleppo.

According to Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook, Wa’il “operated as the minister of information for the terror organization and was a prominent member of its Senior Shura Council” — the leadership group at the top of ISIS.

More from Cook:

“Wa’il oversaw ISIL’s production of terrorist propaganda videos showing torture and executions. He was a close associate of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the ISIL spokesman and leader for plotting and inspiring external terror attacks.”

As Eyder wrote for the Two-Way at the end of August, when Adnani was killed:

“Adnani, whose real name was Taha Sobhi Falaha, was born in Syria, according to the U.S. State Department. He was one of the first foreign fighters to oppose the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and is responsible for publicizing — and voicing — the Islamic State’s claim to forming a so-called Islamic Caliphate.”

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Watch 2 Elite Soccer Players Take On A Pack Of 8-Year-Olds

What happens when two talented 36-year-olds face off against 30 8-year-olds on a soccer field? We now know the answer to that question, thanks to the L.A. Galaxy’s Robbie Keane and midfielder Steven Gerrard.

The match was the finale in the LA Galaxy’s “Ridiculous Soccer Challenge” series; we also found it to be good fun as we reach the end of a week’s worth of serious news.

Despite the youngsters’ show of energy and talent, the two former Premier League captains prevailed, thanks to the wiles they honed in long pro careers and a collective 260 international games. A key component of Gerrard and Keane’s game plan was generous spacing: They often kept one player in each half of the pitch.

But the kids from the “beehive,” as the announcer called them, made a game of it, with one girl picking Keane’s pocket to defuse an early threat, and another showing a nose for the net, scoring both of her team’s goals.

Keane scored the difference-maker late, using nifty footwork to get the ball past Lilliputian defenders — one of whom he high-fived after popping the ball into the net.

With the final score at 3-2, the announcer said, “We’ve come to the end of this one, as the team of Gerrard and Keane will get the win — and orange slices for everybody.”

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What's The Secret To India's Paralympics Success?

Devendra Jhajharia of India competes in the javelin throw at the 2016 Paralympic Games. The gold medal winner lost his left arm in an accident when he was eight. Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images

Deepa Malik was about to make history. Seated in a custom-made chair on a hot day in Rio, Malik — paralyzed from the chest down — held a six-and-a-half-pound shot put between her neck and right shoulder. She took a deep breath and hurled the shot 15 feet across the throwing circle. The throw got Malik a silver at the Paralympic Games in Brazil this past Monday — and made her the first Indian woman to win a Paralympics medal.

“My first thoughts were, ‘Oh my God, have I really won?’ ” says Malik, 45, via email. She developed a spinal tumor in her early 30s and has been paralyzed since. “To become the first Indian woman to win a Paralympic medal is an honor, and it is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

A few days later, Devendra Jhajharia also had a historic win at the summer games. When he was eight, Jhajharia touched a live wire in his small North Indian village; his left arm had to be amputated. Everywhere he went, people commented on his missing limb, telling his mother he would forever have to rely on her. Tired of being called weak, Jhajharia was determined to prove them wrong.

And boy, did he ever. The 36-year-old javelin thrower just beat his own 2004 Athens Paralympic record and won a Paralympic gold for a second time.

Malik and Jhajharia are part of a team of 19 athletes representing India at the 2016 Games and proof of a change that’s taking over the country. In fact, this modestly sized group is India’s largest-ever Paralympic delegation. (China sent the largest delegation of 308 athletes; Brazil sent the second largest at 285; and at 279, U.S. had the third largest.)

“It’s fabulous,” says Deepthi Bopaiah, executive director of GoSports Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds professional athletes in India. “This is definitely a great start for India. I think more people will come forward to support these athletes.”

A year ago, the Foundation launched an exclusive program for India’s para-athletes, and that program has funded most of the participants at this summer’s Paralympics.

So far, India has won two golds, one silver and one bronze medal. That’s double the success of its 2016 Olympic counterpart of more than 100 athletes.

Several factors have led the country to this summer of excellence. For starters, the Indian government recently passed a first-of-its-kind corporate social responsibility law requiring certain companies, based on their earnings and revenue, to contribute 2 percent of their profits to social development — including education, poverty and sport programs. “It’s really changed the game for us,” says Aparna Ravichandran, head of partnerships at GoSports Foundation.

Since its inception eight years ago, the Foundation has relied on the support of individuals and small organizations, but this recent mandate has resulted in funding from multinational companies and other large partners. The government also launched a “Target Olympic Podium Scheme,” an initiative that has set aside a little over 300 million rupees, or more than $4 million, for the program.

These cash incentives have made a world of difference to athletes — several of whom are from extremely humble backgrounds. They also convey to a society that’s biased toward academics that sport can be a legitimate and lucrative career.

“They’re able to see money,” Bopaiah says, adding that athletes can win hundreds of thousands of dollars through sponsorships as well as rewards from the government. For instance, the government of Tamil Nadu in southern India has promised high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu 20 million rupees, close to $300,000, for winning a gold in this year’s Paralympics.

Policy changes have also led to better media coverage and more awareness of the needs of athletes with disabilities. A few years ago, Mahantesh Kivadasannavar, a partially blind cricketer, helped form the Cricket Association for the Blind in India, or CABI, with “the prime objective to focus on promoting and fostering the game of cricket for the blind,” he says. This relatively new group — still in need of regular funding — is managed by visually impaired cricket enthusiasts.

Paracricket involves slight modifications to the original sport. For instance, the cricket ball is made of plastic with steel ball bearings on the inside that rattle, letting the batter know of an approaching ball. Also, cricket wickets are made of steel instead of wood. In a country that worships cricket, CABI helps select 17 visually impaired cricketers from a group of roughly 10,000 hopefuls to represent India at international events — including the second annual T20 World Cup cricket tournament for the blind scheduled for early next year.

Kivadasannavar is also part of the Indian Association of Para Sport Organizations — a recently formed coalition of like-minded groups and agencies.

The group is the brainchild of Rajesh Tomar — former president of the Paralympic Committee of India, or PCI, which has often come under criticism. PCI’s parent body, the International Paralympic Committee, suspended the organization several times in the past few years over internal conflicts as well as mismanagement of athletes and events.

Only recently did the international arm lift its ban on PCI, allowing athletes to represent India at this summer’s Paralympics.

The poor planning manifests itself in other ways, too. “There’s not much help in terms of sending in their entries, paying their entry fee on time, getting their visa, getting their travel documents processed on time,” says Ravichandran of GoSports.

In addition, despite some improvements, athletes continue to struggle with a lack of handicap-accessible infrastructure and access to appropriate training facilities in India. “The deeper we got into that ecosystem, the clearer it became that there’s so much more support needed,” she says.

Some of that support comes from coaches and other role models, who have already walked this somewhat confusing and challenging path.

Niranjan Mukundan can vouch for the power of a good coach. Born with a spinal defect and a club foot, this 22-year-old swimmer was crowned junior world champion last year at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports event in the Netherlands. It was “one of the best moments of my life,” he says.

When Mukundan was eight, his coach, John Christopher, from Bangalore, introduced him to the world of paraswimming. Less than a year later, Mukundan participated in his first national event and won a silver medal.

When she isn’t out winning medals for her country, Malik serves as a motivational speaker and a role model, hoping to inspire people through her journey.

“I think it is important to lead as an example,” she says. “Now, with my latest achievement, I hope to strike a chord with people back home — particularly differently abled women in India — and inspire them to come out of their homes.”

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