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5 Families Avoid Displacement After Housing Rights Committee Acquires Richmond Building

Photo: Google Maps
By Camden Avery - Published on April 25, 2017.

Yesterday, the Housing Rights Committee—in concert with the SF Community Land Trust—announced its first successful building acquisition in the Richmond.

Not only is this the organization's first land trust purchase in the western part of the city, it's the first land trust acquisition in a western neighborhood, period. 

"Five families were able to avoid displacement," said HRC community organizer Cynthia Fong.

The building, a five-unit apartment building at 17th Ave. and Fulton St., went on the market about a year ago.

Homes in the Richmond. | Photo: Mark Hogan/Flickr

"The tenants were really concerned," said Fong. "If you have a really good landlord and they want to get out of the rental business or sell the building, tenants feel threatened. A new landlord could bring about rent increases, evictions."

At the time, tenants reached out to incoming District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, who put them in touch with the HRC, which had opened up a new office in the Richmond late last year. 

In turn, the nonprofit began to organize under the land trust model, as putting a building in trust is an option for five-to-25-unit residential buildings in San Francisco. When a property comes up for sale, the SF Community Land Trust can attempt to buy the property from the seller to prevent displacement and provide affordable housing in perpetuity.

Not every attempt is successful, Fong said. Previously, HRC tried to orchestrate four or five other purchases. 

Although the HRC is celebrating their first land trust acquisition in the Outer Lands, the fact that this is the first one to take place is an issue since Richmond and Sunset have mostly small sites, said Fong. 

"It's a problem for equity," she explained. "Even if tenants know it's an option ... sometimes folks feel discouraged to even try."

The HRC will host a block party on May 7th to help celebrate the acquisition and get the word out about the land trust model for housing preservation. Residents can meet the tenants whose building is being preserved, hear their stories, and learn about another option for tenants in danger of losing their housing.

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