San Francisco has seen a growing trend of SRO landlords displacing tenants to make room for more high-income renters. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Development without displacing S.F.’s low-income, SRO residents

For decades, single room occupancy hotels (SROs) in San Francisco have provided housing for extremely low-income San Franciscans. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a growing trend of SRO landlords displacing tenants to make room for more lucrative, high-income renters.

We want to make clear that we will not incentivize SRO owners to displace existing tenants.

Starcity, as a residential developer and operator, refuses to purchase or manage buildings that previously served low-income San Franciscans. Displacing low-income San Franciscans with high-income tenants only exacerbates our housing crisis, cutting off a vital lifeline to vulnerable populations.

At Starcity, we’re dedicated to making great cities accessible to everyone. We do that by creating co-living housing in underutilized buildings, and by building new housing for diverse income levels. We have a pipeline of thousands of units that will create new housing opportunities versus cannibalizing existing housing stock. We are actively working on a systematic set of reforms that will increase production of housing supply at all income levels.

We are aware that some SROs owners are displacing lower-income San Franciscans with the hopes of selling their buildings to us. We are sending a clear message to all owners of SROs: DO NOT displace low-income people with the hopes of forming a partnership with us.

We invite property owners, developers, and everyone involved in our region’s housing market to join us in promoting responsible and historically/culturally appropriate development here in San Francisco. As a part of this invitation, we encourage organizations involved in housing and housing-innovation to pledge their own commitments to refuse to purchase and/or operate any property that rewards the displacement of low-income San Franciscans.

Furthermore, in order to protect San Francisco’s existing SRO housing stock, Starcity is creating an open source registry to alert housing developers, management companies, and our community when SRO housing is threatened.

Starcity is proud to announce these initiatives as part of a new partnership with Market Street for the Masses (including coalition members Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, the GLIDE Foundation, Compton’s Transgender Cultural District, Faithful Fools, and the Tenderloin People’s Congress). The goal of our partnership is to productively contribute to the conversation between the City of San Francisco, community groups and developers to ensure that SROs remain affordable for San Francisco’s low-income residents.

For those interested in learning more about our coalition, we invite you to get in touch at NoSROcoalition@starcity.com.

Jon Dishotsky is co-founder and CEO of Starcity.

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