So, the story I brought you the outlines of yesterday about Frederick Douglas Haynes Gardens turns out to be just as odd as it seemed, and involves a church, a nonprofit it created, a former supervisor, a former city attorney, and some bad actors in a time of crazy real estate prices. As KRON 4 reports, the lawsuit seeking to halt the sale of the mostly Section 8 complex on Golden Gate Avenue stems from an apparent betrayal by the nonprofit created by the Third Baptist Church to build and create affordable housing, and its executive director Rochelle Buford-Williams.
In what sounds like a tale of a non-profit gone rogue, it seems that Buford-Williams, who is also a vice president in the Commercial Banking Group at Bank of the West, ousted a church member from the board of Third Baptist Gardens which was created in 1969 in order to purchase land and build the Frederick Douglas Haynes Gardens complex and then began refusing to share financial information with the church about the complex. She and the board of the nonprofit then engaged in "a series of inappropriate activities contrary to the purpose and goals” of the nonprofit's mission, according to the church's lawsuit, obtained by the Chronicle. They were, as it says, "blinded by the riches the gold rush dangles," and "repeatedly engaged in misrepresentation, refus[ing] oversight by the church that created it."
The head of the historically African American Third Baptist Church is former San Francisco supervisor Rev. Amos Brown, and representing the church in the lawsuit is former city attorney Louise Renne. Apparently the nonprofit has pledged to halt the sale until the parties can "resolve their issues," but the reasons for the sale seem totally unclear, if not for pure greed and since the proceeds would belong to the nonprofit, who really stood to profit anyway?
As Supervisor London Breed said to the Chron, "What kind of nonprofit organization does this to people?”
Apparently, residents in the complex, many of whom have lived there for decades, only heard about the possible sale on Monday night. And an email was circulated showing how the nonprofit's hired realtors were marketing the complex as being able to command $3,000- to $7,000-per-month rents.
The lawsuit is still pending, and it sounds like this will all likely end with the nonprofit getting itself a new board of directors.