Small Sites Program

What is the Small Sites Program?

Small Sites is a program from the City of San Francisco. The aim is to acquire buildings where long-term, vulnerable tenants may be evicted. Tenants are evicted through the Ellis Act, an owner move-in or other means, so that the landlord can make more money from selling the building.

What properties can we buy as Small Sites?

  • The official City program guidelines are for five-unit to 25-unit buildings.
  • The nonprofit agencies of the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) and the San Francisco Community Land Trust (SFCLT) are willing to purchase two-unit to 50-unit buildings.
  • MEDA is looking in the Mission District and can purchase buildings with commercial spaces.

How does the Small Sites Program work?

  • MEDA and SFCLT buy the properties and keep the current tenants, as long as the tenants are in good standing with the existing leases.
  • The average tenant’s income for the building needs to be under 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). For example, a three-person household must make under $73,350 in annual income.
  • Tenants are part of the purchase, so the tenants help ward off would-be speculators by showing that they will fight to stay. (“We are not going anywhere” signs in the windows and direct action during open houses.)
  • City program will provide a $250,000 subsidy per unit; that amount will be combined with a traditional mortgage loan to purchase the building.

For what are we looking in a possible Small Sites purchase?

  • Buildings about to go on the market or on the market right now.
  • Buildings with existing tenants, of which a number are low- to moderate-income households.
  • Buildings in the Mission or Mission adjacent.

What do tenants in possible Small Sites purchases need to do?

  • Tenants need to agree that the nonprofit(s) would be the new landlord(s).
  • Tenants must provide information about income.
  • Tenants Must give us inside knowledge about the condition of the building and the landlord history.
  • Tenants advocate with owner for the nonprofit offer to be considered instead of a speculator’s offer.

What we would love to make the Small Sites Program truly work?

  • Tenants who know their housing rights.
  • Tenants who are fighting to stay in the building.
  • To make the offer competitive, tenants might be part of the purchase.
  • Tenants advocate with MEDA and SFCLT for more funds from City to purchase other buildings where tenants are at risk of eviction.

If you are a vulnerable tenant interested in having MEDA possibly buy your apartment’s property, please contact Johnny Oliver: 
(415) 282-3334 ext. 123; joliver@medasf.org.

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