Guardian Voices: Hassle-free housing


I'm talking to the amazing organizers at Causa Justa:: Just Cause (CJJC) about their work to protect homeowners from foreclosure by the big banks, about their long history of tenants’ rights work, and what they are up to right now. Blanca Solis says they've launched a new campaign for what they're calling the “Hassle-Free Housing” ordinance. She’s a grassroots leader from CJJC, and she’s asking for our support. To protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords. To stop unfair evictions. To stop wringing our hands about gentrification and families leaving the city. She says we can do something very straightforward to keep working families in their homes.
On Tuesday July 31st, Solis will join other tenant leaders, advocates and supporters at city hall to call for an end to tenant harassment by landlords. The San Francisco Tenants Union will be there. Organizers at CJJC have learned from years of experience with Latino tenants struggling to make ends meet in the midst of this rapidly gentrifying city that “one of the quickest and cheapest ways to evict a tenant is by harassing them until the situation becomes unbearable and the tenant moves on their own. Whey they leave, the landlord has an empty unit that they can rent to new tenants at market-rate rent.”
Faced with a pattern of such blatantly unfair practices, tenant activists took the issue to the voters in 2008; when “Prop M” passed, it was an important victory for this still-majority-renter-city. But then, the landlord’s lawyers got hold of it, and sued to stop implementation.
No one seems to be denying that landlords do this, and that it’s wrong. But what can a family do to stop the harassment, hold on to their housing and get some relief? Here’s where the “Hassle-Free Housing” ordinance comes in. It builds on Prop M and addresses the landlords’ legal issue. It would “allow tenants to claim damages from their landlords for each incident of harassment in small claims court to collect statutory damages of up to $2,000 for each incident.”
Sounds good, let’s do it. City Hall - get on it.
All over San Francisco, probably every night, people are sitting around shaking their heads about how expensive the city has become. How families have been pushed and priced out. Folks shrug and say “But, what can you do?”
There is a long, proud, and painful history in San Francisco of everyday people organizing to put a stop to unfair evictions, developer-driven displacement, and the over-production of luxury housing. From the African American community’s fight to save the Fillmore from redevelopment’s “negro removal” in the 1960s, to the Filipino-led struggle to stop the eviction of elderly men at the I-Hotel in the 1970s, and to Mission activists’ campaigns to control land use during the intense gentrification of the 1990’s dot-com boom. (Just this week there’s a big celebration marking the 35th Anniversary of the I-Hotel struggle.) 
These “housing justice” fights are ultimately about who has the power to shape the future of our city and who has the power to determine who can and cannot afford to live here. That’s where we all come in – all of us who are renters whose lives will be better with a “Hassle-Free Housing” ordinance; all of us whose housing is insecure – because we fear foreclosure or are a paycheck away from homelessness. This is an issue of people power, and you can do something now – attend the press conference at 10am tomorrow on the steps of City Hall, or go to CJJC's website to sign up as a campaign supporter. Being right is good, but ultimately it’s people power that matters.
When Solis was asked why she joined the hassle-free housing campaign and why she’s coming to City Hall tomorrow, she said:
"Que los supervisores aseguren que los inquilinos estemos protegidos de los desalojos injustos por parte de los caseros y asi mismo vivamos en lugares dignos, seguros y libres de hostigamiento"
"So that the supervisors can ensure that we, tenants, are protected from illegal and unjust evictions by landlords and be able to live in homes that are dignified, safe and free of harassment"
Solis and the other incredible grassroots leaders at CJJC are full of courage and determination, and have not given up hope that there is a bright future for San Francisco. Let’s join them!


bad and not all tenants are good... by claiming I said all landlords are bad and all tenants are good. *Smart!*

Then you add your snidery that "you don't even know any landlords except for your own," which clearly indicates that you disrespect renters and that you are willing to jump to the conclusion that I rent -- I'll give you a pass on assuming I'm not a landlord myself -- just so you can use it in an attempt to be insulting.

That puts you firmly in the camp of bad thinkers, bad actors.

Those damn uppity serfs don't know what's good for them.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 01, 2012 @ 7:10 am

Lilli, whose never won a debate on an SFBG message board that maybe 22 people read.

Yeah, lol. You really want to call this man's analysis "flawed"?

Jesus, like no end to your stupidity.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 10:14 am

He dreams of the day when he will win an argument or convert someone to hopeless kneejerk liberalism.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 10:28 am

Unless, of course, you are part of the gilded class of long-term tenants who get to enjoy extremely below market simply because you were there first.

The pro-rent control posters on here are getting killed, let's just get that out of the way. We have graphs, academic studies, articles from noble prize winning economists versus... Lilli getting owned. Again.

But let's just provide some quick anectodotal evidence, just for fun:

My family owns four multi-unti buildings in the City. The person paying the lowest rent in all four is about 60, a highly successful attorney who owns two hotels in Palm Springs and occupies the unit about 5 weeks out of the year. He lives in LA, where he owns his home and multiple investment property. He pays $685/month for a 2BD with deck and parking. Nice guy too. We rent literally the exact same unit to four kids in their mid-20s, two of which are in art school, one works at Whole Foods, the other I'm not sure, for... $3000/month. See how that works? That's rent control, people. In real life.

Now, the follow up to this is even more important. Due to rent control, tenant payouts, protected status, moving expenses, etc.. landlords have become very selective in who they rent to, provided they haven't simply Ellised the whole building. In short, if you are:

- Over 45
- Display no immediate signs of strong financial upward mobility (example teachers, social workers, etc)
- Display a desire to live in SF forever because you love it
- Are a single mother with one or more children
- Any potential signs of illness, particularly HIV related
- Have some sort of legal background, particularly in the social justice type field


I would love to have you. I imagine you're super interesting. But you're just too much of a risk. You may be a nice person, but you also represent a $35K+ payout, if not more. Meanwhile, UBS bank has a kid they've just moved out here, on a Junior Analyst position, who is 25 years old, can't wait to get back to the East Coast because it's "weird here", and he can pay exactly what you can.

That's my tenant.


Posted by Sambo on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 10:01 am

When Boston got rid of RC, market rents immediately dropped as liquidity and mobility returned to the market. New construction of rental buildings started, and owners started investing in their buildings again.

Now anyone who wants one can get a flat in Boston - a far cry from 15 years ago.

SF won't get a handle on it's housing shortage until RC goes away and we start building again. Which also requires the NIMBY's to take a hike.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 10:15 am

San Francisco will be just fine so long as everyone who lives here now is gone and the neighborhoods we breathe life into are upzoned, razed and turned into yet another high density suburb.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 10:28 am

thousands in SF. But the burbs aren't high-rise so that solution won't work here.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 11:05 am

Such a master logician! The suburbs are not high rise even though many have high speed transit lines running through them, so the can never be upzoned. San Francisco's east side is not high rise, has less capacity of and is as time distant from high speed transit lines than many suburbs, but the market wants to build here, so let's upzone.

Makes perfect sense.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

We could probably house 100,000 there in high-rises but the non-profy pimps and NIMBY's won't allow it as it affects their property prices.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

All those repulsive greedy dumfucks pontificating about how rent control is bad for renters -- they like Disney characters!

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

Unfortunately this is an accurate description of the workings of the SF rental "market" - a textbook example of the Laws of Unintended Consequences.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 10:19 am

I'd add avoiding anyone with kids, anyone on Section 8, anyone who works for the city, or anyone who gives any indication of being some type of socialist.

The perfect tenant is a visiting foreign academic on a 1-2 year temporary assignment.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 10:20 am

We must stop those immoral Big Endians.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 31, 2012 @ 10:03 am

N'Tanya's pieces all do appear to be the same thing - repackaged. Same shit, different day.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 3:39 pm