On Saturday, April 7th, Homes Not Jails occupied a house in San Francisco’s Mission District that had been bought by a real estate speculator who cleared out some 15 tenants, including one in his eighties. While homelessness in San Francisco has soared, this building has remained vacant four years, while the owner waits for prices to rise so he can make his killing. Housing activists told of other buildings in the City that are vacant for the same reason. They compared buildings held vacant amidst homelessness to the Depression-era burning of food amidst hunger, horrors that occur when life’s necessities exist not to sustain us, but to generate profit.
Homes Not Jails is demanding the City use its eminent domain powers to declare the building a public nuisance, take it over, and use it for low cost housing. They are also demanding passage of a state bill, SB464, which would discourage housing speculation (requiring a 5 year ownership before property owners can evict tenants under the Ellis Act) and give all tenants a year to find new housing if a senior or disabled tenant is in the building. Read more.
Rally at24th and Mission Streets, before a march to the vacant house that that housing activists have occupied. The singers are giving new meaning to the song “We will not be moved!”
Large numbers of police are present to prevent mass occupation of the building now held by a smaller number of housing activists. At this point, the housing activists had called down that police were on the roof, apparently preparing to remove the squatters.
The housing activists, speaking from from the occupied house, emphasized that the market is particularly cruel to evicted seniors and disable people.
By mid-afternoon, the situation at the occupied house was a standoff. Faced with felony charges of conspiracy to trespass, the occupiers left around 4 PM.
SF Bay Guardian article on the lie of affordable housing in San Francisco.