by Jason Overman
San Francisco –Third Baptist Church in San Francisco asked a San Francisco Superior Court judge today to stop the landlord of the Frederick Douglass Haynes Gardens – a 104-unit Fillmore development that is home to mostly Section 8 tenants – from selling the building to speculators.
The temporary restraining order request, filed in court by attorneys with Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP, asks a judge to provide injunctive relief against what appears to be another case of affordable housing at risk in San Francisco. An especially inflammatory email between two real estate brokers dated July 21, obtained by attorneys for the plaintiff, show that the currently affordable apartments are listed for sale and rents are expected to rise.
The email, from Joe Levy at Marcus & Millichap, a real estate brokerage, says the 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom units – each with one bath – are poised to fetch between $3,000 and $7,000 per month.
“Protecting San Francisco’s stock of affordable housing – in District 5 and citywide – is one of my top priorities,” said Board of Supervisors President London Breed. “The people of San Francisco must stand as one against those who seek to convert our limited affordable housing to market rate housing.
“Without a process that includes the residents and the community, the sale of this property should be stopped immediately! I’m working with Mayor Lee and the Mayor’s Office of Housing to address this situation. I want to send a strong message that this type of behavior is not acceptable in my district nor anywhere in the city.”
Third Baptist Church in San Francisco asked a San Francisco Superior Court judge today to stop the landlord of the Frederick Douglass Haynes Gardens – a 104-unit Fillmore development that is home to mostly Section 8 tenants – from selling the building to speculators.
The church’s suit asks a judge to stop or slow the building’s landlord – Third Baptist Gardens, Inc. (TBG) – from selling the property to unknown real estate speculators. TBG, a separate entity from the church, is a nonprofit corporation that was started by the church in the 1960s – ironically, to improve housing affordability and prevent displacement.
Unlike much of San Francisco’s at-risk affordable housing, the Frederick Douglass Haynes Gardens is home to mostly Section 8 tenants – approximately 80 percent – who receive federal subsidies to help them afford the cost of their rent. It’s considered historically significant, too, to San Francisco’s African American community, who disproportionately face the harms of gentrification and displacement.
Attorneys for the plaintiff say that, as recently as yesterday, the property’s tenants weren’t even aware of the pending sale. “Adding insult to injury,” attorney Jonathan Holtzman said, “the property owners hadn’t told the tenants that they might be at risk of losing their homes.”
Despite the development having been started by the church over 40 years ago, the complaint alleges that the property’s landlord, TBG, has engaged in deceptive business practices as of late, risks violating its articles of incorporation, and jeopardized both the church’s longstanding interest in the property and the interests of its low-income tenants, many of whom are people of color.
Beyond secretly listing the property for sale – in a 10-day timeframe, while ordering a broker to deny that the property has been listed – the complaint alleges that TBG has summarily ousted board members and that its executive director has hired family members for paid positions in an effort to consolidate power.
“Protecting San Francisco’s stock of affordable housing – in District 5 and citywide – is one of my top priorities,” said Board of Supervisors President London Breed.
The case is yet another clarion call for action to solve San Francisco’s affordable housing crisis and end the mass outmigration of Blacks from the city they’ve called home for many generations.
“Our clients are asking TBG to make a full and public accounting of the circumstances of this secret proposed sale,” attorney Louise Renne said. “Because there are two tragedies with this case: one of these 104 working families who are at risk and the larger issue of protecting San Francisco’s affordable housing safety net.”
Jason Overman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bay View staff contributed to this story.