Hundreds gathered for a citywide tenant convention to discuss the ongoing “eviction epidemic” in San Francisco on Saturday, Feb. 8, to come up with a plan to halt housing displacements.
Tenderloin Community School’s cafeteria opened its doors to rallying citizens concerned with the current housing crisis.
“I really thank you for coming out on a rainy Saturday to be part of this absolutely historic occasion,”said Sara Shortt, executive director of the San Francisco Housing Rights Committee, “This is what tenant solidarity looks like.”
The gathering was the culmination of conventions in various city neighborhoods — Chinatown, Mission/Excelsior, Castro, Haight, Richmond, as well as the SoMa and the Tenderloin — that took place during the last four months.
|Anti-eviction mapping project
A division of the San Francisco Tenant’s Union located on Capp and 21st streets, the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project collects, data from evictions in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Evictions are displayed on the web as dots on a map — the more evictions in an area, the larger and more vivid the dot is displayed on the screen.
Each eviction represented includes information about income, race, sexual orientation and age of evictees, as well as the type of harassment (if applicable), where they moved to, and the name of the landlord who performed the eviction. Evictions are mapped back from 1997.
Though mostly an online tool, the project also makes a point to gain visibility on the streets — a stencil of a suitcase with the words “Tenants were forced out” can be seen printed on sidewalks in front of buildings where tenants have been evicted.
One of their current online projects is keeping a database of San Francisco landlords — including Sergio Iantorno, known for serving Mission resident René Yañez and his family an Ellis Act Eviction notice during the summer of 2013, along with having “Ellised” 19 other units and evicted 41 tenants.
Find out more at https://antievictionmappingproject.net
“Whose city? Our city! Whose homes? Our homes!” the crowd chanted in English, Spanish and Cantonese. “¡Basta ya! ¡No más desalojos! ¡Ya basta!”
The goal by the end of this months-long process is to vote on legislation proposals to bring to supervisors that would eventually start making waves in the housing crisis.
“Our biggest priority is how we can do some solid legislation,” said Shortt. “(It) will help people from being displaced in this city and help keep people in their homes.”
Since 2011 rents in San Francisco have increased by 72 percent—with a 24 percent increase in the last six months alone, according to Ted Gullicksen, executive director of the San Francisco Tenants Union.
Gullicksen adds that since 2011, and with the implementation of a 1985 California state law that allows landlords to evict their tenants in order to go out of business, known as the Ellis Act, evictions have quadrupled.
Owner move-in evictions have gone up 125 percent since 2011 and, 60 percent from last year. Demolition evictions are up 200 percent from last year.
“We are in a huge crisis, and that’s why we’re here to do something about it,” said Gullicksen. Mike Casey, of Service Employee Union Local 2, spoke about the bigger picture.
“We all know that a segregated and divided society is bad for the community at large – that is the threat that we face at this time,” Casey said. “ Forty percent more of working families are leaving the city than coming into the city. That results in demographic changes that shift the very culture and politics of protest in this city.”
A mother and a care provider for the elderly, Blanca Reyes, lives in the Mission—one of the most hit neighborhoods of the housing crisis. She is facing the threat of an Ellis Act eviction. She was offered $25,000 and given two months to leave her home of over 14 years.
“I’m not taking the money,” said Reyes. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Once the initial presentation was over, attendees were sectioned off into small groups to discuss which proposals they would like to see in the form of legislation.
Six of the 11 members of the Board of Supervisors made an appearance including John Avalos, David Campos, David Chiu, Malia Cohen, Jane Kim and Eric Mar.
The Anti-Displacement Coalition was the main sponsor of the event. Other sponsors included the San Francisco Housing Rights Committee, SEIU Local 2, Causa Justa:: Just Cause, Tenant’s Union, the Chinatown Community Development Center, the Eviction Defense Collaborative and Eviction Free San Francisco.