After a local media stir, a 94-year-old woman who’s lived at her Mission District apartment since the 1940s will not be evicted as a landlord had initially proposed.

Update (3/7/24, 9:13 am): The management of a Mission District apartment building has sent SFNews a statement saying they will not evict 94-year-old Helen Byrne from her apartment. "While the initial decision to purchase a rental property was made with the intention of investment, the goals for this property have since changed – with a focus on people over profits. Upon deep reflection of the situation, we have made the decision to allow the residents of 3050-3058 Cesar Chavez Street to stay," manager Daniel Mytels said in the statement.

"When we learned of 94-year-old Helen Byrne’s long history in this building and saw her new health condition and felt her deep community there, we decided we had to commit to keeping Ms. Byrne and the other residents in their homes," the statement adds. "In the coming weeks, we will work out the specific details and next steps regarding the future of this property and we will make every effort to ensure that residents can stay in their homes long-term.

Original story (3/6/24, 4:41 pm): This is not the first time San Francisco has seen an unscrupulous Ellis Act eviction of someone very elderly, and it certainly won’t be the last, because elderly people are not useful cogs in the local real estate revenue machine. NBC Bay Area brings us the story of the attempted eviction of 94-year-old Helen Byrne, who’s lived at her Mission District apartment for more than 80 years.

An unnamed LLC bought the building in 2020, describing it to their lender in emails obtained by NBC Bay Area as “an almost impossibly good value.” But those same emails complained that the building “is burdened with four long-term occupants paying a total of just $3,800 or so in total rent per month.”

And so the LLC offered all of the tenants between $70,000-$85,000 to move out (more if all four of them took the deal). None of the tenants took the offer.

“I would like to stay here for the rest of my life,” Byrne told NBC Bay Area. “I have all my friends and neighbors that live here with me.”

So the LLC then initiated Ellis Act eviction proceedings, while the tenants turned to the Tenderloin Housing Clinic for legal support, and the fight is ongoing.

In an email to NBC Bay Area, the LLC’s attorney Raymond Yetka told the station that “The most likely outcomes are a sale of the vacant property as a whole, or conversion of the units to Tenants in Common (TIC) interests for sale to owner-occupants.”

In other words, the owner’s (or owners’) objective here is to empty and flip the property.

“His goal here was speculation, pure speculation,” Tenderloin Housing Clinic managing attorney Steve Collier told NBC Bay Area. “[The Ellis Act] is often used by speculators to empty buildings and then sell them at a greater value because the long-term rent control tenants aren’t in the building.”

This legal case is ongoing, and will likely be decided by the courts. NBC Bay Area says a decision could come “possibly within the next few days.”

Related: 98-Year-Old Woman Still Fighting Eviction From Her Home Of 50 Years [SFNews]

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