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Displacement-Proofing San Francisco’s Tenderloin District

The city’s community land trust just closed on an apartment building that will keep rents below market and allow residents to build equity.

285 Turk Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.

285 Turk Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

When the 40-unit building in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district was taken over by a new owner in 2016, longtime tenants didn’t know to be worried, at first. Many had thought their apartment prices were locked in with rent control, because for decades, they’d seen their rents of $495 to $700 rise only marginally.

When the new landlord quickly dispensed with that misconception, announcing plans to raise monthly prices, the tenants fought back. With the help of Lorenzo Listana, a local community organizer and the co-founder of the Filipino Community Development Corporation, they wrote letters, held rallies, and worked with the landlord to shrink the rent hike. The win, however, was followed by an uneasy peace. Listana feared that if another big company was able to buy it, more rent increases would follow — or worse, that the nearly 100-year old building could be demolished, rebuilt, and refilled with tenants paying market rates.