We came to our work with the CitiSTOP campaign because we are concerned about the ways working class queers and queers of color are being pushed out of this city.

We looked to the Tenderloin, one of the oldest queer neighborhoods in the city (home to the pre-Stonewall Compton’s Cafeteria riot in 1966, pre-Castro Halloween parties, and a variety of gay and trans nightclubs and meeting spaces), as a dangerous indicator of that trend.

Once a place for all of us queers– especially those unwelcome in the Castro (whether we’re sex workers, runaways, immigrants or black or brown or poor, drug users, trannies, queens, or just freaks)– it is quickly becoming another hip place for straight people to mingle. (Gay Shame made a good map of all the former queer clubs turned into hetero meeting spaces. Find it here).

homos not condos

One of the most visible shifts is the overwhelming presence of one landlord, who, building by building & block by block, is buying up our neighborhoods. Citi Apartments (or Skyline Realty or Trophy Properties– they’re all the same company) is working hard to “transform” the Tenderloin by evicting as many long-term tenants as possible and replacing them with short-term renters, professionals working short jobs downtown, and students.

Citi’s business model relies on evicting as many low-income, senior, long-term, and below-market rate tenants as possible, then jacking up the rent to well above market value (prices that appear even remotely competitive only because of their virtual monopoly on the local market). Often this means taking former residential units and turning them into beds for tourists, as with the Gaylord Hotel– a former SRO– and a 50+ unit building now advertised through CitiSuites, high-end short-term corporate rentals.

The result is a building that used to be filled with young hustlers trying to make it in the city, elderly queens with stories about San Francisco’s golden days, immigrant families, retired bus drivers and city workers who grew up just blocks away, single queers living with AIDS, now are half-empty or newly filled with young white straight professionals, art students, and people who are afraid of their neighbors. (Check out Joey Plaster’s Tenderloin oral histories project for some of these stories).

CitiSTOP is a coalition of tenant activists, from the Central City SRO Collaborative to the Tenant’s Union to St Peter’s, who condemn the corporate tactics of Citi Apartments and are fighting to build grassroots power among the residents of this city and to show all of San Francisco’s landlords that Citi Apartments’ gentrifying tactics don’t pay.

Queers NOT Condos Flyer

For the last couple of years, we have been excited to be part of the CitiSTOP campaign, doing the work of door-to-door outreach. Talking to our neighbors in Citi Apartments buildings in the Tenderloin, Mission, and Western Addition, we have started to build, together, a coalition of long-term central city residents, queers, activists, and angry Citi tenants who aren’t going to take it anymore.

Check out our website here. Get involved. Email us at citistop@gmail.com.

P.S. We’re winning!

Citi Apartments recently gave over 50 buildings back to the bank to avoid foreclosure, and now another bank is pushing to foreclose on 23 more. By staying in our apartments, working together, and speaking up about Citi’s behavior, we’ve torn the legs out from under Citi’s fragile business model. They’re seeing that they can’t make their profits on our backs— this is OUR city.

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