THC Is Founded
In 1980, The Tenderloin Housing Clinic opened as an all volunteer operation in a one-room office building in Glide Memorial Church. Today, with over 189 full time employees, the Clinic is San Francisco’s leading provider of legal services to low-income tenants and operates the city’s largest permanent housing program for single homeless adults.
1982: Bringing Heat to SRO Residents
The Clinic uncovers a widespread lack of heat in the city’s SRO’s (single room occupancy hotels), resulting in extensive local and national media coverage. The San Francisco Chronicle makes the “heatless hotel” crisis its lead story for a week, leading to emergency enactment of the nation’s toughest heat and hot water laws.
1983: Winning Visitor Rights and Ending Illegal Lockouts
In response to “no visitor” policies in some SRO’s, the Clinic files a lawsuit to stop the practice. The Clinic wins a historic Court ruling striking down “no visitor” policies in residential hotels. The Clinic leads a campaign to end illegal lockouts, a common practice by which landlords displaced tenants without using the courts. Our campaign led the police to draft a new Lockout Training Manual which required officers to prevent lockouts; after a prominent landlord was arrested and taken to jail, lockouts largely stopped.
Providing Eviction Defense
After initially providing eviction defense assistance only to Tenderloin tenants, the Clinic becomes San Francisco’s chief provider of in pro per eviction defense assistance citywide. The Clinic provided such assistance to over 2500 tenants annually through 1991, and the project now operates independently with city funding as the Eviction Defense Collaborative.
1984: Stopping Health Department Evictions
The Clinic sues to stop the Health Department’s practice of closing down hotels on 72 hours notice and displacing tenants due to the landlord’s failure to make repairs. The Health Department agreed to cease this practice.
1985: Defeating World’s Biggest Slumlord
The Clinic launches a campaign to expose the abuses of the Tenderloin’s biggest landlord, German multimillionaire Guenter Kaussen. Kaussen’s vast holdings in Germany, Vancouver, Atlanta and San Francisco lead Germany’s leading magazine to describe him as the “world’s largest slumlord.” Using legal and media strategies, the Clinic’s campaign ends with Kaussen’s worldwide real estate empire in shambles. The Clinic’s battle against Kaussen receives local, national, and international media coverage, including a story on CBS’ 60 Minutes.
1985-Present Using the Courts to Assert Tenants’ Right
Clinic lawyers file and win dozens of major habitability and wrongful eviction lawsuits for residents of the City’s poorest neighborhoods. In the past 25 years, the Clinic has represented hundreds of tenants in lawsuits seeking damages for substandard housing and illegal evictions. Thousands more tenants have received counseling services.
1988-1989: Modified Payment Program Begins
With its own funds, the Clinic initiates the Modified Payments Program (MPP), a successful effort to reduce homelessness that eventually replaces the City’s notorious “hotline hotel” program. From 1982-1988 the hotline program spent millions on giving homeless persons one-three night stands in rundown SRO’s, taking over 1,000 units off the permanent housing market. The MPP gets tenants SRO rooms at 1980 rents, dramatically reduces homelessness, and significantly improves living conditions in low-cost hotels. In time, the MPP becomes the City’s largest permanent housing program for homeless single adults.
Read about THC in the 1990's