- This Week
Evictions are driving long-time renters out of their homes -- and out of SF. Here are the stories of several people being evicted
The upshot of San Francisco's affordability crisis is a cultural blow for a city traditionally regarded as tolerant, forward thinking, and progressive. In the words of Rose Eger, a musician who faces an Ellis Act eviction from her apartment of 19 years, "it changes the face of who San Francisco is.
Out of the Castro
By Tim Redmond
You can't get much more Castro than Jeremy Mykaels. The 62-year old moved to the neighborhood in the early 1970s, fleeing raids at gay bars in Denver. He played in a rock band, worked at the old Jaguar Books, watched the rise of Harvey Milk, saw the neighborhood transform and made it his home.
He's lived in a modest apartment on Noe Street for 17 years, and for the past 11 has been living with AIDS. Rent control has made it possible for Mykaels, who survives on disability payments, to remain in this city, in his community, close to the doctors at Davis Hospital who, he believes, have saved his life.
And now he's going to have to leave.
In the spring of 2011, his longtime landlords sold the building to a real-estate investment group based in Union City — and the new owners immediately sought to get rid of all the tenants. Two renters fled, knowing what was coming; Mykaels stuck around. In September of 2012, he was served with an eviction notice, filed under the state's Ellis Act.
He's a senior, he's disabled, his friends are mostly dead and his life is in his community — but none of that matters. The Ellis Act has no exceptions.
Mykaels spent a fair amount of his life savings fixing up his place. The walls are beige, decorated with nice art. Dickens the cat, who is chocolate brown but looks black, wanders in and out of the small bedroom. Mykaels has been happy there and never wanted to leave; "this," he told me, "is where I thought I would live the rest of my life."
There's no place in the Castro, or even the rest of the city, where he can afford to move. Small studios start at $2,500 a month, which would eat up all of his income. There is, quite literally, nowhere left for him to go.
"A lot of my friends have died, or moved to Palm Springs," he said. "But this is where my doctors are and where I'm comfortable. I'm not going to find a support system like this anywhere else in the world."
Mykaels is the face of San Francisco, 2013, a resident who is not part of the mayor's grand vision for bringing development and high-paying jobs into the city. As far as City Hall is concerned, he's collateral damage, someone whose life will have to be upended in the name of progress.
But Mykaels isn't going easily. The former web designer has created a site — ellishurtsseniors.org — that lists not only his address (460 Noe) and the names of the new owners (Cuong Mai, William H. Young and John H. Du) but the addresses of dozens of other properties that are facing Ellis Act evictions. His message to potential buyers: Boycott.
"Do not buy properties where seniors or the disabled have been evicted for profit by real estate speculators using the Ellis Act," the website states.
Mykaels is a demon researcher — his site is a guide to 31 properties with 94 units where seniors or disabled people are being evicted under the Ellis Act. In some cases, individuals or couples are filing the eviction papers, but at least 14 properties are owned by corporations or trusts.