The San Franciscans: Grace Wells
Longtime San Franciscan Grace Wells is the 83 year-old Lower Haight/Western Addition resident at the center of San Francisco's latest controversy around senior and owner move-in evictions. June Croucher, who owns the building where Grace lives at 908 Page Street, would like to remodel the house, combining three units into what housing activists say would create a mansion for the landlord at the expense of an affordable home for Grace. The retiree has lived in the building since 1989, and in the neighborhood since 1942. In 2000, in a case that was widely reported, 89 year-old Mission District resident Videll Murphy was forced into homelessness after being evicted from her home of seven years for an owner move-in. Following the eviction, Murphy slept in a senior center for three months before finding someplace else to stay. In San Francisco, seniors account for more than 25% of tenants evicted under the controversial Ellis Act, a state law that allows an owner to evict tenants, move into the property or sell it to real estate speculators, and temporarily remove the property from the rental market. 

Owner move-in evictions are just a cover for making more money. This San Franciscan asks himself, "If it were my property, and I wanted a mansion, would I have room in it for Grace?" I would certainly feel some responsibility. I guess it all comes down to whether we all have basic responsibilities toward fellow members of Team Earth. Apparently, a lot of people decided in 1986, when they passed the Ellis Act, that the answer is no.

Epilogue: In April of 2004, Grace Wells reached a settlement with her landlord, June Croucher. The agreement required Grace to vacate her apartment by March, 2004 in exchange for undisclosed financial compensation. Wells' attorney Dean Preston called the settlement a "great success" for Wells.

Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco

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