Former SRO Tenants Illegally evicted for “Techie Commune”
Six former tenants of a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel are suing their former landlord over wrongful eviction, after their building was damaged in a 2011 fire, then illegally converted into a “techie co-op.”
“The Negev” – Dorm-Style Living for “The Tech World”
The Park Hotel at 1040 Folsom Street was badly damaged in a fire in May 2011. Under the San Francisco rent control ordinance, the former tenants were entitled to return to their homes at the same rental price of $700 within 30 days of repairs.
However, the former tenants reported to the Examiner, that they were unaware that the building was finished or remodeled and reoccupied by a “techie co-op” called The Negev, or as SFist calls it, a modern day commune.
The rental listings for the new co-op advertise a space for “young professionals” and “like-minded people” “mostly from the tech world.”
The Craigslist ad for the space reads:
“Instant Friends & Community – Like minded group of people who are into entrepreneurship, sales, engineering, and partying.
Family dinners on sundays, parties every 3 weeks, yoga on Fridays, and weekly talks from well known people mostly in the technology world. Consists of both guys and girls.”
Challenging the Co-op’s Legality
The building’s owner, Danny Haber, owns similar “communes” throughout the city, including one on 6th and Howard Streets.
Haber allegedly offered a former tenant only $500 as a buyout to relinquish her rights to return to her home. Of course, she immediately refused and instead sought out Steve Collier, an attorney with the Tenderloin Housing Clinic.
Collier filed a wrongful eviction lawsuit last Wednesday on behalf of six of the former tenants. He also pointed out that in 2008, the Park Hotel landlord Nasir Patel, obtained a $100,000 interest-free loan from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to renovate the hotel and agreed to keep 10 units as affordable housing, meaning affordable to anyone making 40 percent below the neighborhood’s median income – for 15 years.
According to the Examiner, on October 28, the Mayor’s Office issued a notice of default on the loan, due to the landlord’s failure to offer any units at the agreed rate.
Meanwhile, Haber says he is willing to do anything to avoid the lawsuit, suggesting they reach an agreement that doesn’t involve evicting his current tenants and his old tenants would remain out of luck as well.
Tech Boom Meets Housing Crisis
With the influx of younger tech employees entering the city and demand for housing at an all time high, will there be more SRO tech takeovers? Some have argued that these are glorified frat houses, while some argue it’s their only opportunity to live and work in the city. What do you think? Comment below.