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.