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Affordable housing program buys Richmond District building

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A three-story, five unit building at 4042 Fulton St. was acquired this month by the Community Land Trust with help from The City’s Small Sites Program. (Courtesy Google Maps)

A San Francisco city program that buys and preserves rent-controlled housing for tenants celebrated its first purchase Tuesday in the Richmond District and more than 100 purchases citywide since its start in 2014.

The three-story, five unit building at 4042 Fulton St. was acquired this month by the Community Land Trust with help from The City’s Small Sites Program, which provides funds for nonprofits to purchase and manage properties where long-term tenants are at risk of displacement.

SEE RELATED: Richmond district feels housing crunch

When the building was put up for sale last Memorial Day, after being owned by the same family for more than 50 years, the tenants, three senior households and two families with children who had all been there at least 10 years, thought eviction by a new owner was nearly inevitable.

Deborah Strom, 70, who has lived in the building for more than 40 years and raised three children there, said she and her husband Frank couldn’t afford to live anywhere in the Bay Area, and even considered moving out of state.

“We didn’t have an alternative except moving totally out of The City,” Strom said.

A chance phone conversation with a volunteer for Supervisor Sandra Fewer’s campaign last summer, however, put her in touch with Fewer, who in turn helped connect her with tenant advocates and the Community Land Trust, which was able to reach an agreement with the property owners.

“It was a long shot,” Strom said. “We were fortunate, but a lot of people are not.”

The purchase of the Fulton Street property and one at 63 Lapidge St. will bring the total units purchased by the Small Sites program, which was founded in 2014, to 103. Another eight-unit property at 3198 24th St. will be acquired later this week, bringing the total spent to $36.2 million, and 10 more pending applications are expected to close this summer, officials said today.

Fewer said Tuesday she hoped to see many more units purchased in the Richmond District, which has one of the highest rates of eviction and few sites suitable for the development of affordable housing.

“It is so important that we have this program so that I can keep my neighbors in my neighborhood,” Fewer said. “I hope this program will grow, not just in my neighborhood, but in every neighborhood where people are at threat of eviction from their long-term residences.”

Mayor Ed Lee said that while The City is building affordable housing “as fast as we can, we also need to pay attention to how many units we would lose in this very tight market.”

“We actually have to preserve out rent-controlled units while we’re building our affordable units, one does not work without the other,” Lee said.

Fewer plans to hold a hearing on the Small Sites program on May 10.

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