The Foy-Martí family, who have lived for 23 years in their San Francisco Victorian nestled in Noe Valley, still remain at risk of eviction.
Fernando, Michelle and their son Carmelo Martí, invited the community to show up for their eviction trial in January to help to convey to the jury and the court the injustice of their case.
Their eviction trial was supposed to start the first week of November, but it got moved to Nov. 29. After two trial postponements, the trial is now scheduled to begin with jury selection on Jan. 10 with opening arguments from Jan. 11-13. “This keeps getting pushed out, keeping us with more uncertainty,” Fernando Martí said.
In May of 2021, the Foy-Martí family received an owner move-in eviction notice from Peter, Tanya and their daughter Tatiana Omran, the building’s owners. Fernando Martí, who is an artist, poet, and hardened housing rights activist of San Francisco, decided not to accept it.
“We decided it was worth fighting,” Martí said. “The lawyer told us it would probably cost around $10,000 for the entire process, and that was not including his honoraries, which are part of a city program which offers legal counsel for tenants.”
Even knowing what they were up against, they decided to go through the legal process with the expectation of being able to stay at their home.
They still have hope, but even so, they have already begun to think about their ‘plan B.’
“Most likely we will appeal if we lose the trial in January, because that will give us more time to figure out what to do,” Martí said. “Our plan is to stay, but we started looking into affordable housing announcements, which could be a possibility since with our income, we can apply to it.”
“So on one hand we are trying to figure out and find an affordable house, and on the other hand, we are hoping to win the trial and get to stay in our home,” Martí said. Because of the expensiveness of San Francisco, the affordable housing programs people can get into are very limited, which makes the process even more stressful. However, the family could get preference for it being an eviction. “If you get evicted, you get a step up in these lotteries. So we just asked for time so we can find a place.”
Among the main reasons why the family wants to stay in their home is because they want their 12-year-old son Carmelo, to complete at least middle school with his friends. Martí also wants to keep serving the community in which he has worked for years. “Moving to Oakland or Richmond is a possibility. But it would be hard for my work and relationships. My community work is here in San Francisco.”
The Foy-Martí have mentioned the Omran family have various units renting as corporate rentals. Martí questioned if their intention really was to find Tatiana’s a place to live rather than simply trying to speculate with their apartment, since they could use any of the others instead of evicting a family.
Meanwhile, Michelle, Fernando and Carmelo had to enter mandatory settlement conferences as part of the pre-trial process.
The Foy-Martí family were willing to negotiate for sufficient time to find a suitable home their family could afford in the city. The family also asked the Omran realtor’s son, Christopher Omran, to donate his commission from the purchase to a tenant organization, and to state he would no longer be involved in real estate sales implying evictions. The negotiation did not end in any agreement.
“There’s been a lot of pressure put on them. There were people from their own community, the Palestinian community, who has been talking to them, writing letters, supporting us…” Martí said. “Although the pressure may not be really working because they just see it as a business.” The trial is set to be in-person at 400 McAllister Street, beginning on Jan. 10 at 9 a.m, with Jury selection. Opening arguments will be most likely from Jan. 11 to 13. The Foy-Martí family wants to invite the community to join them during their public eviction trial. “We do want to invite people to come to the court, whoever can come,” Martí said. “It is not much about how much people can support us, as much as supporting the anti-eviction movement and the displacement crisis in San Francisco.”