Watchdog groups in Oakland and San Francisco have a new tool to hold corporate entities accountable for alleged unfair housing practices.
Evictorbook is the culmination of thousands of volunteer hours that compiled data from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and the San Francisco Rent Board on evictions, building complaints and building permits with state records of corporate ownership to untangle the web of corporate landlords and the shell companies through which they operate.
Tenants and community action groups can search properties by addresses, neighborhoods or LLCs to identify who owns a property and, if applicable, who owns the company that holds the property.
Erin McElroy, a co-founder of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, said that Evictorbook allows for a deeper analysis of trends of “corporate landlordism” in San Francisco and Oakland.
AEMP found that corporate owners were responsible for 33 percent of evictions in San Francisco and 25 percent of evictions in Oakland in the last five years.
When users search for a property at sf.evictorbook.com or oakland.evictorbook.com, they will also find other properties that are in that same investor’s portfolio and their eviction histories. Individual building information is also provided, revealing property owner information, building permit history, building complaint history and rent adjustment program petitions.
“Corporate landlords have a disproportionate impact on evictions, all forms of informal displacement and on rising rents,” said Brad Hirn, the lead organizer of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco. “Evictorbook allows us to pinpoint the decision makers and the names of individuals who are responsible for the disproportionate impact on evictions, displacement and rising rents.”
AEMP said that corporate landlordism disproportionately harms communities of color, limiting home ownership, worsening housing insecurity and unaffordability.
Jyotswaroop Bawa of the California Reinvestment Coalition said a research report by the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., showed that the country’s 20 largest corporate landlords used billions in cash to secure “as many single-family homes and multifamily homes as possible.”
Bawa said that in 2021, 75 percent of San Francisco’s real estate purchases were all cash transactions. That’s not common among private, “mom and pop” investors.
“Mom and pop landlords are mostly a myth, a thing of the past,” said Bawa.
Looking to expand
Arming the community with the otherwise difficult to find public information provided by Evictorbook allows the community organizations to get more information about buildings with negligent owners and to possibly acquire those properties and keep them permanently affordable for future generations, said Alex Acuna of the Oakland Community Land Trust.
While Evictorbook is currently only active in Oakland and San Francisco, AEMP said they are working to find different datasets so the tool could be expanded to other regions, which is important because more investors are buying properties in smaller cities, where there is an increased demand in the rental market.
“People deserve to know who owns their community,” said Acuna. “Evictorbook will help communities most impacted by speculation to organize, fight to help us acquire properties, and keep people rooted in Oakland by bringing homes into permanently affordable community ownership.”