Bayview Hunters Point
In a city famous for its affluence, progressiveness and diversity, the neighborhood of Bayview Hunters Point (BVHP) is an anomaly. Historically an African American community, Bayview Hunters Point is located in the southeast sector of San Francisco.
During World War II, the U.S. Navy recruited a large population of African Americans to migrate to BVHP and work in the well-paying jobs at the Hunters Point naval shipyard. The area became one of the only San Francisco neighborhoods with a majority of African Americans. Soon residents developed a thriving community, purchasing homes and creating a commercial area along Third Street.
Over the years, poverty and crime have plagued the community. In the 1980s, BVHP was devastated by the proliferation of crack and semi-automatic weapons. Today, the socio-economic and health indicators of BVHP residents are among the most depressed in the nation. According to the SMART Data System, the mean Community Disadvantage Index for the total census tracts in BVHP is 9, with half of the census tracts (5) scoring a 10.
In 1974, the naval shipyard closed leaving many formerly working and middle-class BVHP residents unemployed. The shipyard that once served as an abundant source of employment and middle/working class income was designated as a Superfund site. In fact, there are two Superfund sites along with 325 other toxic sites within this densely populated community. Read more
The surrounding water is now contaminated by radioactive waste as a result of sandblasting the ships that carried the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Hunters Point naval shipyard, along with the PG&E power plant, the city’s sewer, the City dump, and many other industrial facilities have polluted the air and water surrounding BVHP.
Demographics & Statistics
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Bayview Hunters Point’s population is approximately 50% African American (compared to 7.6% citywide) 27.6% Pacific Islander (mostly Samoan and Tongan), 16.7% Latina/Hispanic, 5.4% White, and .3% Native American. It has one of the highest poverty rates in San Francisco, with 30% of families earning less that $10,000 per year, and a median household income of $29,640 annually, as compared to $65,000 for white San Franciscans and a $55,221 average citywide. An overwhelming 72% of the African Americans in Bayview Hunters Point have incomes below the federal poverty level. Read more
The Difference Between Bayview and Hunters Point
According to city districting, (and most people outside the community), Bayview Hunters Point is considered one community. However, Bayview and Hunters Point are two separate communities each with significantly different demographics. According to statistics from the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA):
- Hunters Point housing developments are over 70% African American; approximately 12% Pacific Islander (Samoan); 7.8% Hispanic; 7.0% White; 4.5% Asian; and 3% other. The average annual income for a family of four is $14,869 and over 30% of households earn less than $10,000 annually.
- Bayview has a much higher percentage of Asian (38%), White households (26%), and Hispanic households (16%). The average annual income for a family of four in the Bayview area is $45,000 per year.
Geographically, Bayview consists of privately owned homes on the flatlands, while Hunters Point consists of subsidized and public housing on the hill.
Health Indicators for Bayview Hunters Point residents mirror the socio-economic indicators of the community. African American women in BVHP have breast cancer and cervical cancer rates that are twice the average rates of women living in the entire Bay Area (all nine counties surrounding the San Francisco Bay,) and are among the highest in the entire country. Among all ethnic groups, African Americans in San Francisco have the highest rates of ischemic heart disease, stroke and all types of cancer. Read more
BVHP residents have the highest rates of obesity (28.1%) and overweight (34.6%) in the city as compared to an average of 11.9% for obesity and 28.4% overweight for the city as a whole. The prevalence of overweight/obesity in the neighborhood is associated with soaring rates of co-morbid conditions: BVHP ranks highest among San Francisco neighborhoods in the rate of ambulatory hospitalizations for adult uncontrolled diabetes and adult congestive heart failure. The area accounts for a disproportionate share of the city’s deaths from hypertension/heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, both of which can be exacerbated by being overweight or obese. Additionally, area residents have the highest rates of Type 2 diabetes – 13.6% as compared to an average of 3.1% in San Francisco and 5.3% in California. The hospitalization rate for diabetes is over three times higher for this group than the city’s average, at 1,300 hospitalizations per 100,000 vs. 400 per 100,000 citywide.African American women living in Bayview Hunters Point are two to four times more likely than other women in San Francisco to give birth to infants with serious birth defects. However, most troubling of all, is that BVHP has one of the highest infant mortality rates of any zip code in California. According to a San Francisco Chronicle article, “Too Young to Die” dated October 3, 2004:
“Bayview Hunters Point has an infant mortality rate comparable to Bulgaria or Jamaica, while San Francisco has been cited in studies as having the best infant mortality rate among large U.S. cities, even with the death rate of Bayview Hunters Point included. Babies are 2.5 times more likely to die in their first year there (BVHP) than in other areas of San Francisco. The answer, some experts believe, lies in the cumulative toll levied by stress from neighborhood conditions ranging from violent crime, drugs, slum housing, a dearth of grocery stores, a lack of political clout and living in a dumping ground for industrial pollutants.”
Birth of Hunters Point Family
Ms. Lena Miller founded the Hunter’s Point Family (then called GIRLS 2000), in 1997, in response to her experiences growing up in the Bayview Hunters Point community. At age 24 Lena completed her Masters Degree in Social Work in order to work toward enhancing the positive qualities of her community and mitigate the destructive ones. She developed the Hunters Point Family to utilize the strength of family ties and mutual support that helped her, and so many other young people, to survive the harsh realities of life in Bayview Hunters Point. The program also included an intensive educational component and enrichment activities to offset the destructive elements of the environment. Most importantly, the program was informed by the culture of the neighborhood, specifically to serve youth in Bayview Hunters Point. Read more
GIRLS 2000, the agency’s seminal program began in a single room within the Hunters Point Recreational facility, adjacent to the Harbor Road housing developments. In the spring of 1999, moved to 763 Jerrold Avenue, a former Housing Authority office, located in the Harbor Road housing developments.In August 2000, GIRLS 2000 received non-profit 501(c)(3) status from the state and federal government and the Board of Directors transitioned the program into independence in June of 2001. In 2002, GIRLS 2000 became the fiscal agent for the Bayview Safe Haven (BVSH). At that time, the agency changed its name to the Hunters Point Family both to distinguish itself from the GIRLS 2000 program and to build a sense of family within the agency and throughout the Hunters Point community. In 2003 the agency launched the Peacekeepers program and in 2006 the agency adopted the Gilman Rec-Connect program.