Campfire: Polo Gonzalez (with mom Ana Gutierrez represented)Video
Polo, his mom Ana Gutierrez, and his youngest brother Ruben received an Ellis Act Eviction in 2012 to leave their Lucky Street home in the Mission District, which has been the family dwelling for 34 years.
Polo is the eldest son of the family of five children. As a young man, being the eldest son in the family, Polo dropped out of school to help support the family. The Mission gave him almost every job he has ever known. “I grew up at a time in the Mission, when the general opinion was that nothing positive could become of Latino youth.” From early on, Polo was involved in community services in the Mission, including graffiti abatement programs, volunteering at event security for Carnival, and most recently, collaborating with the DJ Project at Horizons Unlimited, which teaches youth creative and business management skills. Today, he is a manager at a Philz Coffeehouse, where he politely admonishes clients who call The Mission, “The Mish,” to please call it by its proper name.
Ana Gutierrez—a disabled senior—is from Sonora, Mexico near the border to Arizona. As a young wife, Ana worked as a seasonal migrant worker fruit packing in Yuma, and picking and packing lettuce, tomatoes, and strawberries around Gilroy. She became a member of the United Farm Workers in 1968, and vowed that her children would not see the fields. In 1978, Ana and her husband brought their children from Arizona to the Lucky Street home. Two weeks after they arrived, a stroke put Ana’s husband in a coma until his death seven years later. There, in that home, Ana raised a family of five children, as a single mother. She was a holiday seasonal worker at the See’s Chocolate Factory in San Francisco, and ironed levis pants at the old Levi’s Strauss factory in the Mission, until she became a hospital worker. A few years ago, she retired with a disability from pushing the ill on gurneys and wheelchairs.
After he separated from his wife, he returned to live on Lucky Street with his mom and youngest brother. On the weekends that Polo has his kids, he can leave the house knowing that grandma is there to care for them. “… On my income, if I didn’t have cheap rent, I couldn’t pay alimony, child support, expenses, and support my mom.” Polo feels despair that his children will not grow up knowing the Mission, that he won’t ever afford to come back to the neighborhood he loves, and that his mom can’t stay in the barrio she knows in her elder years. He says with emotion, “Because she is fighting the eviction, I know that she is not ready to go.”
In March 2014, vigorous litigation by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic on behalf of Ana Gutierrez and her family led to the landlord desisting from their Ellis Act Eviction.