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Like thousands of other working class San Franciscans, Mr. and Ms. Lee worked for decades in the city. Now elderly and caring for their disabled adult daughter, they are facing eviction by a real estate investor who bought their eight-unit apartment building in the once blue-collar Polk Gulch neighborhood. The investor has admitted that from the start, his business plan was to evict all the tenants and sell off the apartments. He has almost succeeded. All the other families have moved out and the Lees have also desperately tried to move. But as seniors on a fixed income with a disabled family member they faced a costly and doubly discriminatory rental market. They have applied to dozens of apartments without success. Yet their investor landlord has rejected their requests for help finding alternative housing and has asked the sheriff to force the family into the streets.
The Lee family’s story might be like thousands of others who have been quietly moved without public awareness. But overcoming their initial fears, Mr. and Ms. Lee have decided to take a stand: they are staying in their apartment and publicly protesting their eviction by the sheriff. With the support of the Tenants Union and others, they hope their fight will result in increased protections for all tenants and help for evicted tenants like themselves who need housing in the City.
Last month, a judge approved the eviction of the Lees without a trial, disregarding evidence that the landlord-investor misrepresented in his plans to evict the tenants in order to finance for his project. The court’s has allowed the landlord to proceed to request the sheriff to forcibly remove the family despite a pending appeal of that ruling. The sheriff is now scheduled to evict the family on Wednesday, September 25.