The Last Raza in the Mission

root - Posted on 01 January 2000

Community leader and housing activist, Jose Morales, faces unfair eviction under the Ellis Act.

by Bruce Allison/PNN; Writer Facilitator: Lola Bean

For the last 40-Years Jose Morales lived at 572 San Jose Ave. For a decade he has been fighting his landlord. Ten years ago, the landlord took Jose’s backyard access away. Jose filed a petition with the rent board and they told the landlord to cut his rent by 50%. The landlord and the company that owns the building, ABT, LLC, retaliated against Jose by trying to use the Ellis Act to kick him out of the apartment entirely.

The Ellis Act gives the landlord the right to get out of the renting business without selling his property. The landlord just has to go to court and say they want to stop renting. The judge OKs it and the landlord is then allowed to bypass the tenants lease agreements and give out eviction papers. This is how Jose Morales ended up in a battle for the home he has lived in for 40 years.

At 9:13am on Aug 22 of this year Jose stood his 78 year old body outside the San Francisco Courthouse. He was dressed neatly in a green and blue jacket and wore a blue baseball cap. Behind him was a small shopping cart filled with fliers. He gave a flier to anyone and everyone that would take one. I took one of the fliers and read the horrible story they told. Printed in black ink was a brief history of Jose’s battle to save his home and a brief history about my friend Jose. It was sad for me to see him in that position outside the courtroom.

At 9:30 we made our way into the courtroom. Jose, a fine gentleman, took his place in the front row. 20 supporters and friends from St. Peter’s Housing and the Bernal Heights Senior Community Center and this reporter from POOR Magazine were there to bear witness to the proceeding.

At 10:45 the battle began with the judge hitting the gavel. Each party had 15 minutes to state their cases in front judge.

The advocate for the evil landlord opened the debate by saying that the Ellis Act gives him the right to evict people I don’t like.

The judge decided to let the jury decide his fate.

His jury case is scheduled to end this week. Please come out to show your support for a cherished community elder.

After five years your soul enters your house. After 10 years it enters the neighborhood. 15 years you become an Icon of the neighborhood, after 40 years, they ask you to leave.

Currently the Ellis Act is one vote away from being eliminated by State Assembly Members. Please stay tuned to PNN for more reports on the Ellis Act.


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