Supervisors look to troubled tenants
as potential homeowners
By Aldrich M. Tan
May 17, 2006
Lucifer Chesar, 45, is a retired nurse living with AIDS. Chesar
and his partner Chris Woitel, 36, have been offered a buyout of
their apartment on 18th Street in Delores Park.
Chesar said he does not want to move.
"It's hard to watch your own life decay, let alone be forced
to move and find another home," Chesar said.
After Supervisor Aaron Peskin's legislation regulating condominium
conversion finally passed at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting,
Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Bevan Dufty made concerted efforts
to address the needs of tenants specifically affected by such
Supervisor Dufty introduced legislation that would give seniors,
disabled and catastrophically ill long-term tenants the opportunity
to own their housing. Supervisors Ammiano and Dufty requested
for a hearing to examine the loss of funding to one specific group
of protected tenants - people living with AIDS.
Peskin's ordinance prohibits the Department of Public Works from
authorizing the condominium conversion of buildings that have
had more than two evictions on and after May 1, 2005, or evictions
specifically of seniors and disabled people.
The ordinance passed final reading 7 to 3 with Supervisors Michela
Alioto-Pier, Sean Elsbernd and Fiona Ma voting against the legislation.
"My legislation assures maximum protection for our city's
most vulnerable tenants, which are the seniors, disabled, catastrophically
ill," Peskin said. "They will still be residing in their
homes after the legislation is approved."
Sponsored by Dufty, the Protected Owner Legislation would provide
buildings interested in converting to condominiums with an incentive
to keep protected tenants in the building and encourage those
tenants to become owners of their own units
Under the legislation, buildings containing seniors, disabled
and catastrophically ill long-term tenants can become eligible
for condominium conversion only if the property's tenants pool
their finances together to become homeowners. Such buildings would
bypass the Department of Public Works' condominium lottery.
Dufty said his legislation would protect a large number of individuals
living with AIDS who are being evicted out of their homes, Dufty
said. Many individuals with AIDS are living healthy lives and
have jobs or other financial resources available to them.
"People with AIDS choose to live in this city because of
the high quality care and services that it provides," Dufty
However, many are being forced to leave their homes in mass numbers
thanks to Ellis Act evictions and lost financial support, said
Brian Basinger, director of the AIDS Housing Alliance.
In the past five years, the Ellis Act has emptied over 1,000
buildings and nearly one quarter of those buildings are concentrated
in the Castro, Basinger said. An estimated number of 1,800 people
have died of AIDS in San Francisco in the past five years.
"People with AIDS who lose their housing die faster at five
times the rate of those who remain stably housed," Basinger
Chesar and Woitel said they currently pay $700 per month to live
in their apartment.
"My legislation will transform the rent money into a potential
home downpayment so that protected tenants don't have to move,"
Supervisor Ammiano said he and Dufty's hearing will examine the
lost of funding for housing for people with AIDS, especially regarding
the loss of HOPWA, Ryan White CARE and San Francisco general fund
The hearing will review impacts of the lost funding and ask relevant
City Departments and Community Stakeholders to explore new strategies
that ensure AIDS housing money is provided.
Political activist Cara Vita said she has seen many of her friends
living with AIDS being evicted from their homes.
"It's not a crime to be sick," Vita said. "It's
not a crime to be poor. We have to make sure that people with
AIDS are not displaced from their housing."
Ammiano said he hopes the hearing and Dufty's proposed legislation
will increase the opportunities for the catastrophically ill to
live in San Francisco
"I hope we will have a positive impact by focusing on a
key base largely affected by condominium conversion," Ammiano