Even an Eviction Defense Group Can’t Stop Itself from Being Displaced by a Startup

By Lamar Anderson : SanFranciscoMagazine – excerpt

The dark side of the Twitter tax break

Two tenants’ rights groups, the Eviction Defense Collaborative and Tenants Together, are losing their mid-Market office space to coworking startup WeWork, in a twist of events that might be ironic if it weren’t so…inevitable. Add in the fact that the building that tempted WeWork falls within the bounds of the contentious Twitter tax break district, and you have a clash of old versus new San Francisco so self-referential and potent that we think we just heard David Campos’s megaphone short out. In fact, we’ll go ahead and call it: Welcome to Peak San Francisco.

Come January, the New York–based coworking outfit WeWork will take over the 12th floor of the Hewes building at 995 Market, which has served as the headquarters for the Eviction Defense Collaborative for a decade. Last year, 5,000 tenants came through its doors, says executive director Paul Cohen, and of those, the group helped just under 2,000 households challenge their impending evictions. WeWork, meanwhile, already occupies several levels in the building and has been renovating each floor as it captures more space—the 12th floor is, of course, next. Building owner Long Market Property Partners did not offer to renew the Eviction Defense Collaborative’s lease, which comes up at the end of this year, and by extension that of Tenants Together, which subleases from the collaborative. The two groups are currently seeking new office space and will almost certainly split up…

enants Together executive director Dean Preston says his organization is in negotiations for a space in the Tenderloin but declined to give further details. Cohen is now in the final stages of leasing an office on Mission Street between Ninth and Tenth streets. At more than $28,000 per month, the rent is easily double the $14,000 per month the collaborative is currently paying. And so the collaborative, with Tenants Together, is throwing what they’re calling an “eviction party” on December 2 to raise money to cover their new overhead. Cohen even sounds upbeat about the new space, which is larger than their current suite, closer to the courthouse, and offers more privacy for consultations. “In the long run, I think the move away from this building is going to be a good thing,” he says. Plus, the space the collaborative will almost surely move into is currently vacant. “I don’t think we’re displacing anyone where we’re going,” he says. “We feel very good about that.”.. (more)


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