“For 60 households rent increases as high as 300% are impossible to pay, meaning we have to leave San Francisco this week,” said 20-year Midtown resident Phyllis Bowie who faces a $3000 rent hike on August 1st. Residents now hope that the 30-minute meeting with the Mayor they’ve called for during June 29th rally will take place.
UHW Local 47, job advocates ABU, UC Berkeley School of Law students and community supporters joined this resilient group of tenants. Starting with a protest outside of the office of their property manager, San Francisco-based Mercy Housing, they marched on to the City Hall.
Unable to meet with their district supervisor London Breed, tenants aired their grievances to Mayor Lee staffers and turned over 100 signed letters in which residents asked for justice and fairness. Emails obtained through public records requests illustrating how Mercy and Office of Housing openly discussed rent increase to drive up Midtown vacancies were turned over to the Mayor’s staffers as well.
Midtown residents rally outside the office of their property manager - Mercy Housing
Midtown tenants at the City Hall en route to a meeting with Mayor Lee's aide
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San Francisco, August 3rd 2015
Facing imminent displacement due to inability to pay the rent hikes implemented by the Office of Housing and Mercy Housing, Midtown residents decided to call for a second largest rent strike in SF history. This last ditch effort to keep their community intact us inspired by Ed Lee led Ping Yuen rent strike of 1978, as well as advice from civil rights legend Ambassador Andrew Young who worked on a similar situation with Dr. Martin Luther King in 1966.
Sixty five working class families who face immediate rent hikes 30%-300% made a choice to pursue a drastic course of actions instead of abandoning their homes they’ve lived in for decades. Having dealt for two years with Mercy Housing who faces allegations of gross mismanagement and tenant harassment that already lead to displacement of ten families, tenants united to ensure that the largest flight of Western Addition families since the redevelopment of 1960s does not take place.
After the initial rally some residents continued marching to the City Hall steps