Since Midtown's inception, the city of San Francisco has adopted a laissez faire approach to it, SF Weekly describes it as
"the system couldn't have been better executed to obscure accountability and ensure the complex's long-term needs went unaddressed." For years an all-volunteer board of residents has made day-to-day decisions to the best of their ability valiantly guiding the property through the thick and thin. Believing in city's promises of turning over ownership of the Midtown, residents carried out necessary unit repairs themselves. Even such vital issues like asbestos cleanup and earthquake retrofit have not been addressed by the city for decades.
By introducing Rent Modification Program (RMP) that counteracts the rent control protection residents enjoyed and contradicts rents in Midtown set by the Board of Supervisors for years, Mayor's Office of Housing wielded a heavy hand in its dealings with the residents. Income certification and one-sided rent raise is an envy of private landlords, yet the City that advocates affordable housing is increasing rent to our many residents by more than 300%! To call it anything but bullying of tenants and erosion of rent control by the very entity which should be advocating it is impossible.
In an effort to use state funds to pay for repairs caused by years of neglect, City intends to turn our vibrant community into public housing by moving residents of Holy Courts (SF Housing Authority) into Midtown. Instead of delivering on a promise of co-op ownership to long-time residents, City is pushing them out via unprecedented rent increases and creating a new public housing project in the heart of San Francisco.
A last minute lease agreement has been struck between Mayor's Office of Housing and Mercy Housing, its California operations ran by Doug Schoemaker who preceded Olson Lee as Director of MOH. A lease which has not been approved by the Board of Supervisors gave broad powers to the agency in order to conduct Rent Modification Program; immediately many residents reported bullying and terror tactics used by Mercy employee Maureen McAleenan who constantly threatened rent increase to market level. Unable to stand up harassment to and coping with fear, many residents chose to leave their home of many years. All this from a member of San Francisco Council of Community Housing Organizations - a group which anoints itself "the voice of San Francisco's affordable housing movement."
MIDTOWN HISTORYmidtown rent control in san francisco
Not a public housing project, Midtown Apartment Complex is the only city-owned apartment complex in San Francisco - a community earmarked for working class citizens. What began as predominantly African-American, Midtown now is a diverse community of 300 residents that are representative of our vibrant city with Asian, Russian and African immigrants amongst them. Since its inception in 1968, Midtown residents were promised an eventual co-ownership of the complex as they dutifully paid off mortgage to the city enjoying rent control protection.
In 1995 residents underwent one of the many meetings to explore the possibility of ownership, which continued in 2003 with Joe LaTorre and Supervisor Mirkarimi in 2006 and finally with Olson Lee in 2012 when various rehabilitation plans were discussed. Mortgage on property residents did not own was paid off by Midtown Park in 2007 in hopes that the city promise and later a Board of Supervisors Resolution 070858 calling for a long-term ownership structure would come to fruition.
However, two days before Christmas in 2013 our lease was abruptly cancelled by the City and even over 100 petitions to withdraw lease termination could not sway Olson Lee, Director of Mayor's Office of Housing. Citing a new lease with Mercy Housing which has not been ratified by the Board of Supervisors, the City embarked on a Rent Modification Program which led to rent of over 62 units go up anywhere between 30% to 300%!
Our initial rent control application on February 2, 2014 was the largest in San Francisco history was denied since no rent increase took place then, but now hundreds of our residents face displacement due to exorbitant rent increase.
In 2014 we filed the largest rent control petition in the history of San Francisco when 70 units filed for protection. Now having undergone Rent Modification Program most of our residents face a 30% to 300% rent increase commencing on August 1st, 2015 which will effectively displace them. Most of our tenants are elderly on fixed income, working class San Franciscans, and recent arrivals to our city who have found a safe haven and a sense of community at Midtown; and can't afford to move.
On June 29th we will file a new rent control petition representing 55 units - less than the original 70: some residents are afraid to speak up this injustice due to fear of reprisal from the City and Mercy Housing. New draconian, public housing leases from Mercy Housing are being forced upon the unprotected without their input - directly violating Board of Supervisors Resolution 070858.
We want to lift the dark veil of injustice that has been imposed upon Midtown residents for the world to see. For years City has misrepresented their intentions and misled us - we demand justice!
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Left to deal one-on-one with the political machine of the City and heavy handed tactics of Mercy Housing, our residents were left defenseless. Only Brightline Defense Fund and ALRP have picked up the banner on our behalf and have worked diligently pro-bono to ensure that we are being treated fairly. Please support these organizations.
Save Midtown midtown rent control