SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
About Contact Subscribe Calendar Publish Print Donate

San Francisco | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Tenant Convention in San Francisco
by Michael Steinbergb ( blackrainpress [at] hotmail.com )
Saturday Jan 18th, 2014 9:22 PM
In one of a series of citywide meetings, tenants met in the Park Branch Library in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood this afternoon to discuss their problems and possible solutions.


In one of a series of citywide meetings, tenants met in the Park Branch Library in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood this afternoon to discuss their problems and possible solutions.

Problems

Following are some remarks from the gathering pertaining to tenant problems.




-We’re finding that speculators are a reason for housing problems. They’ve been caught in price rigging at auctions for foreclosed houses. There’ve been no consequences for this criminal behavior.


From an anti-foreclosure activist

- There’s a problem with banking. Landlords can bank forever. A new tenant can get hit with all those saved up rent increases.
Banking allows a landlord to save up the annual allowed rent increases over for a number of years.

- Landlords are supposed to get licenses to do work on their buildings. But they hire unlicensed workers. If you complain there’s retaliation.

- Global capital is hovering over our city and driving up rents.

- We’ve been hearing about evictions but who’s tracking buyouts?
Buyouts occur when a landlord pays a tenant to move out rather than going through the legal eviction process.

- City Hall needs to be enforcing our housing rights.

- Why isn’t there a specific division for renters? We need to have a place we can go to. We want an office of our own.

- Information about landlords tends to be opaque. Property managers tend to shield landlords from info tenants need to know. From the audience: ” We need a Yelp for landlords.”

- Tenants need to know what is actual, real harassment. We’re out-monied right away. HUD can help you if you have a legitimate case.

- You see buildings going up in our city in droves. None for low income people. Some are supposed to be.

- The affordable trust fund is a loophole for developers. Too many use it.
That program allows developers to put money in the fund to build affordable housing rather than build any themselves.

- Serial evictors are flipping buildings, emptying buildings to make a huge profit. We need to disincentivise this.

-Landlords get to know everything about you. We need to have transparency so we can know about them too.

-As far as buyouts, they need to be $50,000, or $100,000.People need to know that if you get $10,000, it’ll all get used up paying to move into a new place, or won’t be enough to find another place in San Francisco.

-I was evicted from a four unit apartment. Everyone was evicted. The top two units were evicted under the Ellis Act. I was the last to be evicted. I later found out my apartment had been taken off the market too.

- I’m a third generation San Franciscan. Seeing the city change is heartbreaking.

Solutions

The next part of the meeting involved proposals to the problems that were raised.

These included:

Creation of a speculation tax. Property sales include a transfer tax, which is paid to the city. Under this proposal 50% of this tax would go into a fund to build social housing, which would be affordable housing permanently taken off the market.

A Relocation law conforming to the federal Relocation Act. This would have the effect of giving people who are forced to move a more just amount of time and money.

A moratorium on evictions. Many people are at risk of eviction right now. This would allow them to stay in their homes now.

Limiting banking of rents to 3 years.

Raising the amount of affordable housing required for new housing developments from 12% to 20-50%,

To curb speculation, mandate that properties bought can’t be sold for 5-20 years.

Civil disobedience to take over the city’s 36,000 vacant units now.

Make $100 million available for public housing.

An immediate citywide rent freeze.

Apply SF hotel tax to all Airbnb rentals.

Finally people present voted to choose three proposals with the most support.

Those were;

Moratorium on evictions.

Speculation tax.

Relocation to conform to federal law.

This information will be taken to the Citywide Convention on Saturday, February 8 at SEIU, 350 Rhode Island Street. This gathering will start with lunch at noon, followed by the Convention starting at 1 p.m.

This gathering will make the final decision on which proposals to take forward.

For more into, go to sftu.org