The Tenants Union’s is in a Victorian at Capp and 20th, an area that for decades was the home to streetwalkers. They have since been replaced by Google buses.
The intake room is the old front parlor with a big bay window looking onto the street. The counselor sits behind a desk in the window with the client on the other side. The next clients in line sit in a semi-circle of chairs behind the hot seat. You wait, listen, and hear everyone else’s business.
There is no privacy, which is annoying, but as I listened to the other stories I heard things we had in common as well as stupid questions I realized I should not to ask.
When it was my turn the counselor introduced himself. He was so young and fresh faced I thought he was probably a paralegal doing pro bono work. As it turned out he was an attorney and had once worked at the same firm as I had but in a different city. We hadn’t known each other. I went over my particulars and how I was preparing to negotiate on my own behalf. When I told him I was going to ask for $50,000 he gave me a sour look, like “why would you want to do that?”
He proceeded to read aloud the pertinent sections of the Rent Oridinance and explained that clearly I was protected. What they were attempting to do was illegal. I asked if he would represent me, he said at this stage I could do it myself. He would be happy to review what I wrote and advise me. I was not to the point where I needed an attorney. Yet.
If I did offer to settle there was the matter of compensation. I got the impression that he did not want to give me a figure directly. He did say that he’d “heard of some getting as much as $200,000.” I was flabbergasted. He said it was not an outlandish sum considering the amount of money the landlord would make from increased rent in a short period of time, what they would have to spend on legal fees to throw me out, the money it would take for me to find and live in a similar apartment, and the speculative value of the property which was rising as we spoke. His final words were “no phone calls.” Document everything going forward and insist on written responses.
Sugar plums dancing in my head, I stopped at the Sun Fat Seafood Company on Mission Street to celebrate. I bought a live crab to take home and kill for dinner.
I sent Vince Young my letter offering to settle. A couple days later I noticed he had cashed my February rent check which meant the eviction was off. My sigh of relief lasted only a couple weeks. On February 24th he served everyone in the building with Ellis Act eviction notices. Once more I would have to tell him something he already knew. It was my responsibility to notify him again that I was protected by my senior status.
I was told the process would take about one year if I fought it. At least I now had time to figure out what to do.
The Eviction Story
- As the Pot Melts
- Rear Window
- Christmas, Baby Please Come Home
- Mein Kampf
- Visions of Carlotta
- Rotten Plums
- Your Eminence, Your Worship, Your Grace
- Mon Petit Chiu Chiu
- Would You Buy a Used Car From this Man?
- Don’t Piss on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining
- Second Floor, Women’s Lingerie
- What Have I Got to Hide?
- I Have Not Been Served
- A Woo By Any Other Name
- Meet the Mongels
- The Folks at Home
- The Great Un-Quashed
- The Only Person Who Can Judge Me Is Judy
- Said the Joker to the Thief
- I Left My Heart
- Up On Housing Project Hill
- I Fought the Law and the Law Won