On the afternoon of April 30, 2014, Eviction Free San Francisco joined the tenants from 741 Ellis Street in the Tenderloin district in an emergency rally in the courtyard of their apartment building.
With the help of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, the tenants called this action to demand that their new landlord, Ty Durekas, Senior Advisor of OnCare, immediately withdraw his eviction notices. Because 741 Ellis Street was constructed after 1979, its apartments are not rent controlled. Durekas is evicting five low-income families from their homes of the last 12 years, choosing to stop accepting their Section 8 housing vouchers and giving them 90 days to vacate. Ironically, Durekas’ company OnCare is a company providing internet support services to child care providers while he is trying to put children out onto the street.
Tenant Jessica, a student at Galileo High School, spoke eloquently to the group of about 30, which included other tenants from 741 Ellis Street, tenant rights and community activists, and members of the media. Jessica emphasized that her landlord’s attack on her and neighbors’ homes is hindering her ability to focus on her school work and is creating emotional stress and hardship for all the affected households.
Supporters from the Vietnamese Youth Development Center and the Chinatown Community Development Center, community agencies that work with some of the 741 Ellis Street residents, spoke out in support of the tenants’ campaign to save their homes.
The group ended the rally by demanding that landlord Durekas meet to negotiate with the tenants and withdraw the evictions.
As people were leaving the interior courtyard of the building at the conclusion of the action, two SFPD officers arrived at the request of the reported building manager to try to intimidate the tenants and their friends. After tenant advocates reminded the police that people are allowed to invite guests to their homes and after the police made a nonsensical offer to control street traffic for a rally in a building courtyard (think barbeque), the police and the building manager left without further incident. Earlier, the building manager tore down one of the signs that someone hung in the stairwell in the courtyard in support of the tenants.
The 741 Ellis Street tenants will continue their campaign soon. To get more information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for our email list and to receive notices of future actions.
Eviction Free San Francisco meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 6 PM at the Housing Rights Committee office at 417 South Van Ness Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets. Come join us. Our next meeting is May 7th.