Causa Justa advocate Diana Flores speaks at an anti eviction protest. Photo by Jen Cohen

Two families are temporarily homeless after sheriff’s deputies enforced an eviction from their Folsom Street home of 13 years on Wednesday.

Advocates from Causa Justa, who have been working closely with the Maldonado and Martinez families since they discovered they would be evicted from their shared apartment at 2899 Folsom St., told their story at a demonstration in front of landlord Murphy Investment’s office on Wednesday afternoon.

One of the tenants’ 19-year-old children answered the door when the deputy knocked Wednesday morning, allowing the owner to come in and change the locks, they said. The families were denied the chance to retrieve their belongings and nearly barred from taking their dog. The owner eventually relented, but the dog ran into the street and was hit by a car in front of their building. It died as a result.

“We want to see Bart Murphy,” said Diana Alonzo, an organizer and counselor at Causa Justa, referring to the firm’s owner. “We want to see this eviction dropped… This eviction should have not gone through.”

Murphy Investments staff locked the door and closed their blinds when the protest began. Protesters taped demands for the keys to the window.

“We have been living in the unit for 13 years. You are aware that we have been living there. Be mindful that we have been living here for a long time. Return the keys so we can return home,” said Blanca Martinez, through interpretation by Alonzo.

Even as the protest was winding down, organizers were struggling to locate places for the families to stay overnight.

Advocates said the families were unaware they would be evicted until the master tenant, who had recently signed a settlement agreement with Murphy Investments, called the police on June 15 to force them out of the property.

The families began working with Causa Justa the next day and soon discovered that eviction proceedings began in May, when the master tenant agreed to take a $40,000 buyout from Murphy Investments, provided that she and her subtenants would vacate the premises by August 31. According to the advocates, she was unable to vacate in time and never collected the $40,000.

Advocates said the firm denied knowledge that the families had lived in the building and simultaneously alleged they were nuisance tenants who had urinated and defecated on the property. They added that Murphy Investments further claimed that the families posed a security threat and that the other tenants wanted them out.

Murphy Investments declined to comment.

Causa Justa organizers were able to reach tenants in four out of the five units of the building, who all confirmed that the families had lived there for 13 years and posed no security risk. All expressed opposition to the eviction to Causa Justa.

Causa Justa’s multiple attempts to reach Murphy went unanswered.

“Now that we’ve heard from the tenants, we really need to hear from Bart Murphy and Murphy Investments,” Alonzo said.

Organizers noted that since the sheriff had already proceeded with the court order, the eviction could be halted only by revocation from the judge or leniency from the landlord.

The families wish to establish direct tenancy with Murphy Investments and continue to live in the building. At the very least, they need more than the allotted time to find another place to live.

“We’re asking Murphy to give us more time because we have children in the unit,” one of the tenants said.

“This is not the first time Bart Murphy and Murphy Investments makes false claims against [tenants],” Alonzo said. “It’s about profits, not humans.”

Organizers also noted that Murphy Investments had recently levied a rent increase on a man who had lost his partner to suicide two weeks earlier.

The Maldonado and Martinez families said they had suffered emotionally because of the eviction process.

As of press time, it is unclear where the families will go next. Advocates are currently looking for landlords who will accept housing vouchers.

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9 Comments

  1. I also believe to have heard of this name when i wasbbeing arrested on january 13th or 14th but he gave me a nane different from his name tag which i pointed out. He also did not know bis 4 digit badge number. Be gave me 2 different 5 digit numbers as i also pointed it out and howit was on bis left arm/shoulder and not his top left chest. It was on a restraining order with no charges. As soon as i open the doir in dark he asked to come out mentioned my name n i was under arrest. BEFORE HEARING MY SIDE OF STORY NO EVIDENCE THE WHOLE NEIGHBOR OUTSIDE FILMING. Tried giving 2-4 yrs at first with a strike…. BS !!! DIRTY COPS GOTTA BE PUNISHED LIKE EVERY OTHER CIVILIAN FOUND GUILTY IB COURT OF LAW. He threatened to kick down door i asked for a warrant he saidyes hehad one for me as he handed tberestfaining order. I told him i was going back inside until he got the warrant as im walking back be yells “gun!gun! Hes going for a gun/weapon”!!!… Hes done this many times im sure . last but not least wby wouldthe other police officers ask him if hewas a cop when he was dressed lime one with no gun and badge????????? We want justice and no more crooks.

    1. Your a racist Mr. Gonzales,
      Turned your back on your own people. Stop exposing yourself in public. Children are our future and our most precious commodity. They do not deserve to see your junk. Protect our future, protect our children.

  2. Zero. Zero chance these people will ever see the inside of this building again, Causa Justa or no Causa Justa. Heartbreaking, truly heartbreaking-for the dog that is. Why wasn’t it on a leash? What kind of dog was it? Did the dog have access to a back yard, and if so was the yard properly cleaned up?
    Two families? One unit? Been there thirteen years? Offered forty grand to vacate? Under what grounds was the eviction notice delivered? Who was paying the utilities? Sounds like the master tenant was doing just fine collecting rent from the other family and probably living way, way below market value. Missed the deadline for the forty grand for unnamed reasons, even with six months to find another place to live? Can we be more specific?
    This is what you get under rent control San Franciscans. Obviously Murphy and his client will do anything to get these people out, and who can really blame them? Anyone, and I do mean anyone, given the opportunity to remove a marginal, way below market rate tenant on legal grounds would do the same. By the way, that housing voucher? Maybe Vallejo or Richmond.

    1. This is what you get under rent control? So this happens on every block and every neighborhood where rent-controlled apartment buildings stand? Or is it one of the outliers fueled by the greed of landlords trying to weasel around the law?

      The extra time and effort you spent cynically professing concern for the dog instead of the families made homeless says loads more about you than anyone involved.

      1. Greed is robbing a bank, your greed dogma is self serving, for people who want to get what they want by hook or crook, instead of paying for it

  3. Does anyone smell the same rat I do? I read this article again, not once, not twice, but three times trying to decipher the master tenant relevance. And then I think I figured it out. If I have it incorrect someone from Causa Justa please square me away but apparently the master tenant was running their own version of a rental property. The unit is question was obviously sublet to the two families, no? So the master tenant was milking them and was nowhere in sight, even though said master tenant held the lease with the owner. Sleazy, real sleazy. I wonder how much the actual rent was not to the families but to the master tenant, and how much more the master tenant was charging the two families? The master tenant must have known that at some point the game would come to an end. I don’t know the exact legalities of this arrangement but once again any building owner would and should call an end to this nonsense. The two families most likely knew as well that they were on borrowed time. Are there men in the households? Any self respecting man would realize the game is over and move on with their family. If they’re living under these conditions I seriously doubt that the family income is so great that a relocation would prove a financial hardship. Maybe it’s time to move on and start over, that’s what California is and always has been about. Do I have this correct, Causa Justa, and if so, are these the kind of battles you want to pick with hard working, small time building owners?

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