Mario Landau-Holdsworth and Liz Pettit protest their eviction. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

A large crowd gathered in front of City Hall on Saturday afternoon to protest citywide evictions and advocate for affordable housing.

The rally, which was sponsored by the SF Anti-Displacement Coalition, drew together a diverse range of housing advocates and organizations; including the Housing Rights Committee SF, the Chinatown Community Development Center, Tenants Togther, and more.

It kicked off at noon with a series of speeches (in Spanish, English, and Chinese) by tenant activists and continued into the afternoon as sign-toting participants played tongue-in-cheek games, like life-size “Eviction” Monopoly with customized board spaces such as: “Eviction Notice,” “Condo Conversion,” and “Ellis Act.”

Eviction Monopoly. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.
Eviction Monopoly. Photo by Erica Hellerstein.

Blanca Reyes, a member of the advocacy group CausaJusta/JustCause and longtime Mission resident, took to the microphone in front of a large map displaying the number of citywide Ellis Act evictions since 1997.

“I’m another victim of the Ellis Act,” she began, “and I have been constantly harassed by my landlord. He bought the house recently. He’s even taken away the keys to our home. It’s really damaging to me and my family. We’re constantly afraid about what’s going to happen with our eviction.”

According to a report released earlier this month by CausaJusta/JustCause, more than 1,000 Latino families have left the Mission in recent years. “The Mission right now is in chaos with evictions,” writes CausaJusta’s Cecilia Alvarado. “There is also nowhere to go. The units available are for people who earn $6,000 to $7,000 more than I do per month—not for middle-class or working-class families, which had always been the status of the Mission—families with kids.”

Reyes urged Latino and undocumented members of the crowd to advocate for housing rights locally and in Sacramento. Legislators, she said, want to hear Latino stories about displacement in California. “It’s really important that communities of color go before legislators and let them know the changes that need to be made so that we’re able to stay in our neighborhoods and our communities,” she said. “They are our elected officials and they need to listen to us. Our stories matter.”

Dean Preston, the founder and Executive Director of Tenants Together, spoke about upcoming legislation to curb predatory speculation and Ellis Act evictions, dubbing 2014 “the year to stop speculators.” Like Reyes, Preston said that groups commonly targeted with evictions, like Latinos and elderly Chinese citizens, need to elevate their voices “in the halls of power,” where legislators are hearing from “paid lobbyists” that support speculators.

Lori Nairne, who has been living in San Francisco since 1974, said she came to the rally to represent a group that’s crucially important but regularly overlooked in the Ellis Act conversation: women.

Lori Nairne and Rachel West, voluneers at Global Women's Strike.
Lori Nairne and Rachel West, voluneers at Global Women’s Strike.

“They never talk about the impact this has on women and children,” said Nairne, a volunteer for Global Women’s Strike. “Homes are women’s workplace. It’s where women have children, raise children, and do the caring work. So the housing crisis is an attack on a whole set of women. We’re the ones that keep these homes together, deal with all the emotional crisis of everyone in the household. It has to be acknowledged and recognized, the impact on women.”

Other event-goers included Mario Landau-Holdsworth and Liz Pettit, both fighting their eviction at an apartment at Haight and Fillmore. “The building was just sold to Prado Group,” said Landau-Holdsworth. “The old landlord didn’t care very much about what was happening in the building. Now that’s changed because Prado is just trying to make as much money as possible off of the units.”

According to the duo, Prado Group is raising their monthly rent by more than double — from $2900 to $6200. They commissioned the help of a lawyer, Joyce Jordan, formerly of the AIDS Housing Alliance, “and we’re not planning on leaving,” Landau-Holdworth said. But they recognized that not all tenants have the financial resources to fight looming evictions with lawyers.

“We want to stand in solidarity with all the people in the city who are getting evicted right now,” said Pettit, “Who maybe don’t have the privilege or the information to know that they can fight it.”

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  1. I want more evictions to happen. Time to clean the Mission and sweep away the entrenched Latino tenants who bring Third World lifestyle choices and expect to live on subsized rent until death. Either pay the market rent and get off the government dole, or move. If you rent, you are not entitled to anything permanently. Start packing your bags and stop with these silly protests, because City Hall isn’t listening to you.

    1. Yes, I want more evictions – that will clean up the place.
      Could someone please evict all those housing activists out of town. As a LL I won’t be renting to any of them, they are crazy to get their name in the paper – unless they’re really ‘trustfunders’, which many are.

      End rent control. Except for a a few people, the rest of us a sick of entitled behavior, and tired of the bad art in this town, probably created by these losers. Get a job, and buy a house, and stop complaining.

  2. Just who do these tenants think is paying for the building, if their rents don’t cover the cost – why should the LL take a loss? No tenant in a rent controlled apt is going to live there forever because price controlled rents don’t support it long term. A landlord is not supposed to be an altruist giving away property for less than it’s worth.

    REPEAL RENT CONTROL – eventually it only leads to eviction, and makes for a less stable City – the politicians love this and they prey on the fear of tenants, but tenants can’t see it, so a few protected folks get an easy ride, and all the new comers pay thru the nose.

    No property owner should have to endure prices that fall behind inflation every yr, and for tenant who say ‘well don’t buy the building’- that’s never going to stop folks from buying properties in San francisco.

    Lets clean up this town of leachers who demand below market rents forever. San Francisco need to get more landlord friendly, and reduce the rules so that there are more rentals, this will be better for all working folks here, good tenants and good landlords alike.

    Many LL’s would prefer a good lower paid tenant than a crazy entitled professional tenant – buy activists will make it impossible for any decent LL to rent to a teacher, musician, artist etc.

    1. Rice controls, are you an anti-Asian racist now?

      Over 90% of economists? That should be a pretty simple assertion to substantiate, show us the numbers that prove that 90% of economists oppose rent control.

    2. That 90% you cite is the same group who didn’t see the dotcom bubble, the housing/derivatives bubble, and the current global asset bubble.

      The 10% of economists (actually, probably quite a bit less less than 5%) who did see the bubbles (i,e. those economists who aren’t professional propagandists for the 0.1%) will tell you that you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

      Stick with the herd and its paid propagandists, John, no matter how wrong they are!

      1. So presumably you do not believe in global warming or that the earth is round, because clearly the majority of experts are always wrong?

        But if you really believe that rent control works, then I won’t expect to see you whining here about a housing crisis in SF.

        1. The numbers on climate change are empirical. The shape of the earth is empirical.

          Can you provide the empirical data to substantiate your market economics claims?

  3. The article clearly states that ‘more than a thousand Latino families have left the Mission in recent years.’ This could represent anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 people which is not an insignificant number in the Mission District.

    To blame rent control for the high cost of housing in San Francisco is just nonsense. Unadulterated greed by developers and some large landlords is driving the stratospheric rise in rents.

    I witnessed sixty Latino residents in one apartment building on Balmy Alley evicted under the Ellis Act, purportedly at the behest of a foreign investor. They were all on ‘rent control’, but that didn’t protect them.

    1. Rent Control doesn’t protect anyone – low paying tenants can’t be subsidized forever so they get evicted, plain & simple!

      1. Low income tenants are only a small fraction or the renters who have RC units! My lawyer lives in a RC unit! Makes 8 times more than me and siss in the same unit he had when he was a law student 30 years ago! I am keeping my RC units off the market also. It is too much hassle to fight this insane law!

    2. Anthony, you evidently do not understand that the Ellis Act specifically targets rent control. So it’s ridiculous to say that rent control doesn’t protect from Ellis. The truth is the exact opposite – Ellis protects us from excessive rent control.

      Oh, and 1,000 families statistically would be no more than 3,000 people – not 5,000 to 8,000, which implies 4 to 6 kids per family.

      1. John, you obviously know nothing about the Mission. The house I cited with sixty tenants had nine apartments.Do the math.
        It is common for three generations of immigrant families to share one apartment These are the people who do the heavy lifting in our city, and their community has a right to flourish. Placing profits ahead of community is to abandon our basic humanity.

        1. Anthony, I never said that such instances cannot exist, and I’ve seen a couple myself

          However, they violate the Occupancy code and so are still not legal. The problem is that it is hard for a LL to comply with the Occupancy code without doing an Ellis.

          And if he doesn’t, he faces fines for the violation as well as the obvious health and safety issues.

  4. Straight white mail here. I was there from start to finish and support it wholeheartedly. Nor did it cross my mind for a second that I was being discriminated against.
    Exept for by the ultra-rich who are driving this unprecedented affordable housing crisis
    Thanks God, the diverse and fascinating communities of san Francisco, White, Asian, and Spanish speaking,, gay and straight, male and female, are coming together to save our homes and keep our city from becoming an upscale bedroom community.

    1. Wrong, Ethen, the “ultra rich” arenn’t displacing anyone – they are nestled in their Pacfic Heights mansion and wouldn’t be seen dead anywhere that you are.

      It’s ordinary hard-working and successful Americans, like the professionals you see around town, who are helping to gentrify the Mission.

      Whether you think that is a good or bad thing is no doubt down to your ideology, which I can guess from the overstated card playing at the end of your comment.

      1. I’m not necesarily saying that the untr rich are moving into these places. Just that the ultra rich are the ones who buy, evict, sell, repeat.
        Not that the rents are affordable to anybody whose income is not on the very high side. It is not idealogy that determins ones views on the matter so much as whether one fears becoming homleess, or hopes to gain wealth, from the current situation. And I think my ending was pretty acurate.

        1. Rents in SF are quite reasonable if you are willing to be flexible as to location within the city and the Bay Area.

          but yeah, if you want to live close to where people more successful than you live then, yes, that will be more pricey.

  5. During the first dot-com, I remember that the census revealed that the numbers for latinos in The Mission hadn’t changed at all.

  6. Good on you, people. Why should you allow your homes and families to be uprooted just to make someone rich?

    1. I thought landlords were holding tens of thousands of apartments off of the rental market because of the onerous regulation of rent control?

      1. I’d like to see your source for that data. There are obvious reasons why a property owner might choose not to deal with rent control, of course. But it makes more sense to either sell as TIC or do rentals of less than 30 days, where rent control does not apply.

        Or do what I do these days and focus on 1-6 month lets to foreigners, visiting students and academics, long-stay tourists and corporate lets.

        1. Obviously only an idiot would hold rental property off of the market under these conditions. Yet the anti-rent controllers incessantly caterwaul that the onerous burdens of rent control force beleaguered landlords to hold tens of thousand of units off of the market, further exacerbating rents.

        2. You’re the one making that claim, not me. And you offer no evidence.

          That said, it would shock nobody if property owners sought to avoid rent control and, in a number of ways, I am just one successful example of that trend.

          In fact, only an “idiot” would deal with rent control when there are obvious alternatives.

        3. “I’ve recently joined the ranks of San Francisco landlords who have decided that it’s better to keep an apartment empty than lease it to tenants,” wrote Scott James in a June column in the New York Times detailing his difficult time evicting a terrible tenant. “San Francisco’s anti-landlord housing laws and political climate make it untenable.” Frustrated landlords have left more than 10,000 units vacant, he argued. And Janan New, executive director of the San Francisco Apartment Association, told me the city has created 52,000 new jobs last year but has only build 126 new housing units.


  7. So you want to stop speculators? The thing is speculators building EVERY BUILDING in SF. We need speculators to provide housing, what we don’t need is parasites who try and steal other peoples property !

  8. The injustice is the unfair segregated rent contol that protects some from price increases, but then makes everyone not protected, pay way higher rent because of the artificially constrained supply Rent control os not just theft from landlords but from all market rent payers also !

    1. True. Because all post-1979 construction is exempt from rent control. along with condos, SFH’s and live-work lofts, an increasing number of SF tenants are not protected by rent control and, moreover, State law precludes that from changing.

      SF progressives have no problem with that double standard as long as a majority of them (older white liberals) benefit from it, while newer Hispanic residents cannot.