The 12-unit building, 3311 Cesar Chavez St., in 2015 Photo by J.J. Barrow

A 77-year-old chronically ill woman living at 3309 Cesar Chavez Street is being evicted from the apartment she has lived in since 1969. While the tenant oscillates between the hospital and her apartment, lawyers argue over technicalities in a case that could leave her living on her daughter’s couch.

The tenant, Ana Hernandez, suffers from a multiple respiratory conditions and osteoporosis and is a breast cancer survivor, and her daughter says she is developing dementia. Nonetheless, Hernandez’ lawyer says her unit is in such poor condition that her health indicates she needs to find a new place to live anyway. 

The eviction is set for the morning of Wednesday, May 24.

Hernandez is being evicted for having multiple subtenants, which is not allowed in her lease. Hernandez is also illiterate and a monolingual Spanish speaker who immigrated with her then-fiance from Puerto Rico to San Francisco 52 years ago.

Rudy Balderama, her lawyer, has been working with various city departments to find her a place to stay, but with Hernandez preparing to pack her bags, nothing is set in stone. Balderama said the city may have found an providing an SRO room, but otherwise, her family with limited means must take her in.

“She’s got a couch she can surf on but that’s not a home and it’s not a replacement for what she’s suffered,” said Balderama.

Though Balderama acknowledges Hernandez has subtenants, he and another tenant lawyer familiar with the case argue that the eviction doesn’t add up because the entire building was subject to an Ellis Act eviction in 2015 and it is unclear why she was allowed to stay.

“You can’t have it both ways, either you terminated her tenancy or you didn’t, and if you didn’t you have to reinstate her tenancy formally and say you’re re-entering the market,” said tenant lawyer Raquel Fox, who has represented other tenants in the building, all of whom have now moved.

An attorney for the landlord did not respond to a request for comment. Balderama also said that Hernandez’s subtenants have made a deal with the landlord that allows them to stay a few more months. A lawyer representing a subtenant did not return a call for comment by press time.

All around Hernandez’s unit, the building is being renovated. Her unit, Balderama and Hernandez’ daughter Wendy Maisonet say, suffers from mold and vermin. City inspectors have in the past inspected the building but indicated that they found no mold.

Hernandez has been in and out of the hospital. A letter from her doctor provided by Balderama indicates her health is being impacted directly by the eviction proceedings, and she was recently hospitalized for pneumonia.

Regardless, the eviction is set to be enforced by the sheriff’s department Wednesday morning. Hernandez’ daughter, who lives in San Leandro, said she could take her mother in for a short period of time.

But Maisonet lives in the Bay Area only part of the year and spends the rest of her time in Puerto Rico. Hernandez, her daughter said, does not like spending time in her native Puerto Rico and can be stubborn about what she will not tolerate. Maisonet has offered to help her with rent or with getting settled, but says her mother has strong preferences. 

“She has been in that home over 52 years, and it’s hard for her to get out of there. She has a lot of things, a lot of memories,” she said. “She came from Puerto Rico and it’s the only place she has been all her life…she doesn’t even want to come over, she wants to live in San Francisco.”

This story has been updated to reflect Balderama’s indication that the unit is in poor enough condition to threaten Hernandez’ health.

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3 Comments

  1. Don’t break the law and you won’t have these problems. Learn the language of the country you choose to live in and you’ll be able to communicate better. I know it takes time to learn a second language, but in 52 years, she didn’t pick up anything?

    Sucks for this lady and family, but should a persons age, health, race, imigration status, gender, etc… effect the way the law applies to them? The law is supposed to apply to all citizens equally.

    Sounds like the landlord has made deals with the other tenants and probably offered something fair to this woman and she is having none of it. Sad situation all around. And another story to scare landlords away which lessons the housing stock and drives up rents.

    I hope Mission Local follows up with the Landlord and gets their full side of the story. Something doesn’t smell right…..

    1. John Thompson. Of course they reached out to get the other side, they would not be a reputable news if they didn’t. If something”doesn’t smell right” maybe it’s they declined to speak because they are hiding something. So how much would be “enough” for you if you were living 52 years in the same place? And what laws did she break? Not learning the language? Your ignorance gets in the way of you having a decent argument, it sounds like every other privileged xenophobe… So for those who may think asking those lines, here’s a little history lesson. In 1917 too many soldiers were dying in war and america needed more soldiers to fight for them, and because this government doesn’t do a “good deed” without getting something in return, they passed a law to make Puerto Ricans legal citizens to fight in their war. So to summarize, Puerto Ricans have been legal U.S. citizens for 100 years! John, I’m sure you’re not 100 years old, but do you want the readers to assume you are legal and you don’t know all the laws of this country? Yes, ignorance at its best! Citizens who don’t know all the laws of this country, but expect those who come from other countries to make a better life for their families and work hard to do so, despite the constant racism and harassment by those who feel superior because they “know the language”… FYI, English is comprised of Greek and Latin, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it!
      … And I hope this story does “scare off landlords” who want to take advantage of anyone!

  2. U got that right!
    We Puerto Rican will not go out with out a good fight! N that’s real talk…n to the one that had all that shit to say.. Sounds like to me that u were born with a silver spoon in ur mouth!! N that’s why u think u call talk ur shit.
    Oh but let the shoes be on the other side!!
    But one thing i do know is that god can take it all from u in a blink of a ?. .

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