I got my 2-unit building fifteen years ago just as the dotcom bubble started making real estate prices go crazy. It was a pretty hairy time for tenants but nowhere as bad as today. A friend got evicted from a house in the Mission and my landlord actually brought in investors to look at the building. The writing was on the wall and it was time to go.
Being the poor activist that I was, I needed serious help to actually buy a place. Help from my folks, easily acquired credit cards, and a Federal loan program enabled me get a ridiculously low priced two-unit way out on the southeast waterfront near Hunters Point Shipyard; the place they tell the new kids not come except to drive through quickly for Open Studios or the Banya. The old merchant marine who owned the place died and his sole heir wanted to sell. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. The original tenant moved on to a bigger place with a garage. Right next door. Can’t really blame someone for not wanting a 28 year old as your landlord.
Even though we’re not in the thick of the craziness, the housing market is letting my family live comfortably while working a lot less than many people have to in this town. At the same time friends are being threatened by their entitled new landlord who simultaneously celebrates local makerdom while using family resources for predatory real estate pursuits. I am totally grateful for my fortune because I know that we couldn’t afford our home today by a longshot. I also know that I didn’t do much to deserve the windfall that’s come my way. I think that the loopholes that allow unethical bottom feeders to profit off the misery of our friends and neighbors need to be closed.