When the MEDA Community Real Estate team saw a realtor’s prominently placed billboard advertising that 3329-3333 20th Street in the Mission was on the market, they knew of the urgency to reach out to the tenants, who could all be vulnerable to eviction.
The feel at 3329-3333 20th Street is that of a community within a community. The nine units are all occupied by immigrant Latino families, with five children in the mix.
The 24 residents decide to organize and fight possible displacement, with the aim of getting the landlord to sell to MEDA via the Small Sites Program. This City program allows nonprofits like MEDA to purchase four- to 25-unit buildings and preserve affordable-housing stock.
“Buildings like 3329-3333 20th Street are ripe for speculators to come in and tear down the building because land is so valuable in the Mission. Another issue is when the new owner does capital improvements, with part or all of the costs legally allowed to be passed on to tenants. Low-income, rent-controlled tenants don’t always have the needed funds to cover their increased monthly rent when these capital-improvement costs are tacked on,” explains MEDA Small Sites Property Manager Johnny Oliver.
When tenants see their monthly rent increased by the 10 percent per year allowable, they often cannot afford that hike because they are on such tight budgets. This can eventually lead to eviction. For low-income Mission residents, this usually means having to leave the city – a place where the median rent is three to four times higher than what they’ve been paying.
The San Francisco Tenants Union has worked to make the law less harsh for tenants, but the courts have prevented that organization from being able to stop capital improvement passthroughs altogether. At this point, there is a hardship waiver for people who are deemed low income and whose rent would wind up being more than one-third of their income.
The residents of 3329-3333 20th Street all fit this scenario. These are day laborers. Painters. Restaurant back-of-house workers. To make ends meet — and to better the lives of the next generation — these San Franciscans toil daily for long hours, earning far, far less than the money made by the high-income newcomers now moving onto the block, attracted by the Mission’s vibrant culture. The irony is that this culture has for decades been created by Latino immigrants like those residing at 3329-3333 20th Street, yet they can no longer be part of the community because they get priced out.
When this Small Sites Program deal recently closed, these residents breathed a communal sigh of relief.
Thanks to the Small Sites Program, these community members — who showcased the resiliency needed to fight eviction — can all stay in their homes. In San Francisco. In the Mission.
Are you interested in MEDA buying your landlord’s building that is for sale so that you can stay in your apartment?
Dairo Romero: (415) 282-3334 ext. 103 (Spanish)
Johnny Oliver: (415) 282-3334 ext. 123 (English)