Families Protest Eviction Orders

Lucia Kimble from Causa Justa, Just Cause, a non profit that helps build community leaders.

Dozens of housing rights activists and residents gathered in front of a U.S. Bank branch on 16th and Mission streets to protest the foreclosure and possible eviction of three single mothers and their children.

Causa Justa, Just Cause, a multi-racial, grassroots leadership building organization, and the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, an advocacy group that supports tenants and owners going through foreclosures and evictions, organized the Thursday afternoon press conference.

They protested against the foreclosure of a three-unit house at 490 Athens St. in the Excelsior District and the possible eviction of its tenants.

Dora Martinez, Alma Sierra and Maria Mendoza, the three mothers in danger of being expelled, spoke on megaphones to describe their situation.

Their homes have been foreclosed by U.S. Bank and though they are tenants and have not stopped paying rent, they are on the verge of being evicted, family members said. The families want the bank to act as a landlord by allowing them to stay, collecting the rent and carrying out repairs to their homes.

“We have nowhere to go,” said Maria Mendoza. “We do not have the resources to relocate.” She claims she never heard from the bank directly and only found out that she was being expelled through her neighbors.

“It’s not our fault,” said Sierra, speaking of the dealings between her landlord and the bank. “My son is not doing well at school; he keeps thinking of the eviction.”

Later, the children of the evicted families spoke to the gathered crowd. Kevin, 9, said “Please don’t evict us. If we had to miss out on our education it would very hard to catch up.”

The crowd chanted in support as housing activists detailed their demands and concerns, denouncing both the fate of these families and foreclosures in general.

“This is absurd, this is ridiculous,” shouted Lucia Kimble, one of the organizers. “Tenants’ rights are not respected.”

Kimble demanded that a moratorium be placed on evictions “until banks are regulated and stop their predatory lending”.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee pointed to a report by the city assessor’s office that found one or more irregularity in 99 percent of mortgage loans and clear violations of the law in 84 percent of mortgage loans. This would make it legally impossible to undertake either foreclosures or evictions, Mecca claimed.

“The government should not allow these foreclosures; the banks are criminals,” he said.

Mecca said that “all public officials should refuse these evictions,” calling on interim sheriff Vicki Hennessy to stop carrying out the orders. “The eyes of the world are on you, sheriff,” Mecca said.

Susan Fahey of the Sheriff’s Department declined to comment on Thursday’s protest. “Our role is to carry out eviction orders; we are legally bound to do it,” she said. “It’s not something we do wholeheartedly.”

Mecca then quoted a statement by Excelsior District Supervisor John Avalos, who could not join the protesters. “I urge U.S. Bank to stop their eviction and keep [these families] as tenants,” read the statement.

U.S. Bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.




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2 Comments

  1. tessa

    Thank you for covering this!

  2. marco

    It seems something is missing from this story. I understand that there is rent control in San Francisco and a tenant can not be evicted from a 3-unit building without just cause. I don’t think the sheriff would carry out an illegal eviction, would they? What is the cause for evicition? Is the building being Ellised? Did the tenants not pay their rent? This story needs more information to explain this issue.

    From SF Tenants Union, below are the just causes for eviction in San Francisco… if the eviction does not fall under any of these causes then it is an illegal eviction:

    1. The tenant has failed to pay the rent or habitually pays late or bounces checks frequently;

    2. The tenant has violated a term of the rental agreement or lease and has received written notice about this from the landlord and has not corrected the violation;

    3. The tenant is creating or permitting a nuisance in, or substantial damage to, the unit, or is “creating a substantial interference with the comfort, safety or enjoyment of the landlord or other tenants in the building”;

    4. The tenant is using the unit for an illegal purpose;

    5. The tenant’s prior rental agreement or lease has ended and the tenant refuses to execute a written extension or renewal of the past agreement for the same period of time and under materially the same terms as the prior agreement;

    6. The tenant has refused the landlord reasonable access to the unit as required by state or local law to make repairs or agreed-upon improvements, or to show the unit to prospective buyers (for more information about this, see chapter on Harassment);

    7. The only person left in the the unit when the rental agreement expires is a subtenant who has not been approved by the landlord;

    8. The landlord or a close relative of the landlord (if the landlord lives in the building) wants to move in to the unit and will remain a minimum of 36 consecutive months. Under this just cause,landlords must pay relocation benefits of $4,700 per tenant plus an additional $3,100 to senior or disabled tenants or households with children. (More information on these owner move in evictions)

    9. The landlord seeks to sell a unit which has lawfully been converted to a condominium and does so “without ulterior reasons and with honest intent”;

    10. The landlord seeks to demolish or otherwise remove the unit from rental housing use, has obtained all the necessary permits, and does so “without ulterior reasons and with honest intent” Under this just cause,landlords must pay relocation benefits of $4,700 per tenant plus an additional $3,100 to senior or disabled tenants or households with children;

    11. The landlord seeks temporarily to remove the unit from housing use to carry out “capital improvements or rehabilitation,” has obtained all the necessary permits, and does so “without ulterior reasons and with honest intent.” Note: A tenant forced to vacate temporarily under these circumstances has the right to re-occupy the unit once the work is completed at the prior rent, adjusted by the Rent Board for the improvements. Under this just cause,landlords must pay relocation benefits of $4,700 per tenant plus an additional $3,100 to senior or disabled tenants or households with children;

    12. The landlord seeks to carry out “substantial rehabilitation,” has obtained all the necessary permits, and does so “without ulterior reasons and with honest intent” Under this just cause,landlords must pay relocation benefits of $4,700 per tenant plus an additional $3,100 to senior or disabled tenants or households with children;

    13. The landlord seeks to withdraw from housing use all the units in the building or a unit detached from another structure on the same lot, (e.g. a cottage) pursuant to the “Ellis Act.” Low-income, disabled and elderly tenants evicted for this cause get money for relocation, and disabled and senior tenants (over 62) get one year notice. All tenants get at least 120 days notice and a right to reoccupy at the old rent if the unit is re-rented in the future. More information on these Ellis Act evictions.

    14. The landlord seeks in good faith to temporarily recover possession of the unit for less than 30 days solely for the purpose of abating lead paint problems, as required by the San Francisco Health Code. The tenant has a right to relocation benefits.

    15. The landlord seeks to recover possession in good faith in order to demolish or to otherwise permanently remove the rental unit from housing use in accordance with the terms of a development agreement entered into by the City under Chapter 56 of the San Francisco Administrative Code. (Note: this just cause was added to enable the Trinity Apartments to re-build rent controlled units & is not generally applicable to any other units.)

    SOURCE SF TENANTS UNION

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