Her own Personal Mansion

root - Posted on 24 June 2002

Grace Well, an elder, disabled African woman is evicted from her home of 14 years (Pt 2)

by Michael Steinberg

Grace Well, a disabled very low income 85 year old African American woman in San Francisco, has been fighting an eviction brought by an out of state landlord for almost two years now. Since 1989 Ms. Wells has lived in her flat at 908 Page Street, one block off Haight in the city's Western Addition. She's been in the neighborhood, once an African American working class community, since the 1940s.     

In July 2000 June Croucher--whose address is listed by the SF Assessor's office as P.O. Box 50533, Reno, Nevada 89513--bought Grace Wells' home. Shortly before that the long term tenant who lived in the flat above Ms. Wells passed away. It's still vacant, with one front window fully thrown open to the elements, offering Ms. Croucher every opportunity to move in there, but June Croucher isn't satisfied with just one flat. She wants both of them so she can convert the building into her own personal mansion. And she has to throw Grace Well out on the street and make Ms. Wells' life a nightmare to get her SF dream house, well business is business.     

The only problem with Croucher's plan is that Grace Well refuses to move. And she's gotten a lot of support in her fight to keep her home. That support was apparent on Thursday, March 21, when over 30 of her backers rallied in front of Ms. Wells' home and threw up a picket line to inform neighbors and the media of her struggle.      

The action also attracted three SFPD black and whites, whose officers lurked around the block. Demonstrators carried signs reading "Greed Isn't Pretty," "Stop Senior Evictions," and "This Is Bullshit." They serenaded sympathetic neighbors and the cops with chants of "Yuppie Yuppie Stole My Pad, Yuppie Yuppie Bad Bad Bad!"     

Dean Preston, an attorney representing Grace Well, told the crowd that June Croucher "has made life hell" for Ms. Well. "Croucher has served Grace two eviction notices," Preston said. "She decreased Grace's services in her home--including cutting off her heat this winter."     

Ms. Wells' heat is back on now, due to public pressure mounted against her landlord's unscrupulous actions. But Croucher is continuing her eviction shananigans. Now she's trying to use the infamous Ellis Act--which allows landlords to kick out tenants if they claim they're going out of the landlord business.     

Ted Gullicksen of the SF Tenants Union, which organized the March 21 demo, declared "We're here to say, 'You don't have the right to take away someone else's home because you have lots of money and the tenant doesn't.' We'll be back and we'll keep coming back until we stop this eviction." Gullicksen also said, "This neighborhood has been gentrified to an extraordinary degree in recent times. On a small block around the corner on Scott Street, 75-95% of the tenants have been displaced by owner-move-in and Ellis evictions over the past year and a half."     

The 2000 Census reported that, between 1990 and 2000, the median monthly rent in SF jumped from $643 to $977, a 59% increase. Over that period units renting for between $250 to $749 a month decreased by over 50%, from 132,278 to 63,849. Meanwhile units renting for $1000 or more a month skyrocketed from 24,070 to 90,247, an astronomical 308% increase.  

Grace Well and her supporters are determined to make sure that she doesn't end up as another unfortunate statistic in the rich's war against the poor in San Francisco.    


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