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Fearing homelessness, veterans pressure SF to keep unauthorized housing

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A collection of the eight San Francisco Bayview properties owned by Judy Wu. (Photos courtesy SF Planning Department)

San Francisco has demonized a landlord for cramming veterans into single-family homes in the Bayview to collect a fatter rent check, but her tenants told a different story on Thursday.

“I was homeless before Judy Wu housed me, living on the streets, living out in the shelters,” said Kirby Lewis, who lives at one of her properties on Newcomb Avenue. “Judy has done nothing but help the veterans in San Francisco.”

The City Attorney’s Office filed a lawsuit against landlord Judy Wu in August 2016 for adding units to a dozen properties in the neighborhood without permission and renting them out to tenants with government subsidized rent.

On Thursday, the Planning Commission delayed voting on whether to remove 15 of the unauthorized units.

SEE RELATED: Bayview landlord seeks to remove unauthorized housing for veterans, low-income tenants

Lewis was one of the tenants who called on the Planning Commission to not approve the removal of the units, or to delay the votes until city officials find an alternative solution that would not result in homelessness for the tenants.

Planning Commissioner Dennis Richards said that Supervisor Malia Cohen and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development requested the delay as they work toward “a solution for the residents who would be evicted.”

“We hope that there’s a happy ending for everybody and that nobody gets put out into the street,” Richards said.

Fred Bryant, a disabled veteran who was deployed to West Berlin in 1961, said he has lived at Wu’s property on Shafter Avenue for three years.

“I can only tell you that the unit itself had been completely remodeled when I arrived,” Bryant said. “It had a full service kitchen. It had all the amenities… Judy Wu has done an outstanding job.”

John Brown, Jr., a tenant on Newcomb Avenue, said, “There are a lot of homeless veterans that Judy Wu helped.”

“She’s a good landlord as far as I’m concerned,” Brown said.

“I put my life on the line for the country, but at the same time over and over and over again I find myself having to fight for something that should be right for me — a roof over my head,” Brown said.

The Planning Commissioners delayed its decision to Oct. 5.

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