History of THC


1980: THC is Founded

Graphic of individuals with protest signs.

The Tenderloin Housing Clinic opened as a volunteer operation in a one-room office building in Glide Memorial Church. Starting with just 10 volunteers, THC now has over 300 full-time employees and is one of the largest nonprofits in San Francisco offering legal, housing, and support services.

1983: Winning Visitor Rights and Ending Illegal Lockouts

In response to "no visitor" policies in some SRO's, the Clinic wins a historic Court ruling striking down these policies in residential hotels. The Clinic also leads a campaign to end illegal lockouts, a common practice by which landlords displaced tenants without using the courts. The campaign leads the police to draft a new Lockout Training Manual which required officers to prevent lockouts.

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.

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, leading to emergency enactment of the nation's toughest heat and hot water laws.

1983: Providing Eviction Defense

After initially providing eviction defense assistance only to Tenderloin tenants, the Clinic becomes San Francisco's chief provider of in eviction defense assistance citywide.

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.

1988-1989: Modified Payment Program Begins

Graphic with a checked box with the words "rent paid" next to it.

With its own funds, the Clinic initiates the Modified Payments Program (MPP), a successful effort to reduce homelessness. The MPP gets tenants SRO rooms at below-market rates, 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.


1990: Strengthening Residential Hotel Ordinance

After winning amendments to strengthen the City's residential hotel ordinance in 1985 and 1987, the Clinic wins passage of a new more restrictive Ordinance that also gives nonprofit groups the right of enforcement. The Clinic obtains over a dozen injunctions against illegal hotel conversions, and successfully defends the constitutionality of the law in both state and federal court.

1995: Shelter Plus Care Program

The Clinic partners with the Cadillac Hotel to provide federal subsidies and on-site services for disabled tenants through the federal Shelter Plus Care Program.

1999: Hotel Leasing Begins

As the dot-com boom doubles SRO rents, the Clinic seeks a new strategy for housing city welfare recipients. The Clinic first urge the City's Department Human Services to begin leasing hotels, and when no group expresses interest, the Clinic takes on the task. On May 1, THC leases the 204 room Seneca Hotel, and in October takes on both the Mission Hotel (248 rooms) and the Jefferson Hotel (110 rooms).

1992: Prop H: Tenant's First Ballot Victory

Graphic of "Yes on H" and a tube of anti-itch cream next to it.

The Clinic initiates a citywide organizing project for rebuilding San Francisco's tenants' movement. The process leads to the Clinic becoming the chief funder of Proposition H on the November 1992 ballot, an in initiative that cut the 4% allowable rent increase by more than half. Although outspent 10-1, Prop. H becomes San Francisco's first winning tenant ballot initiative, saving San Francisco tenants tens of millions of dollars.

1998: Renters Tax Credit Restored

The Clinic leads a statewide effort to restore the Renters Tax Credit, which was suspended by the state in 1993. The campaign succeeds in 1998, and restores $250 million annually to tenants.

1999: Ellis Act Reform

Working with State Senator John Burton the Clinic spearheads the first major reform to the state Ellis Act since its passage in 1985. The reform extends the Notice requirements for Ellis eviction of senior and disabled tenants to one year, and reasserts that the Ellis Act does not preempt local laws regulating demolitions or to unit conversions.


2001: Central City S.R.O. Collaborative Was Established

The Central City S.R.O. Collaborative was established to organize with Single-Room Occupancy (S.RO.) tenants in San Francisco's Central City neighborhoods including the Tenderloin and South of Market (SoMA) community.

2003: SROs Exempted from Ellis Act

Photo of an altered stop sign to read as "Stop Evictions".

The Clinic sponsors AB1217 which would exempt SROs from the Ellis Act. Thanks to the assistance of the Western Center and herculean efforts by Assembly member Mark Leno, the bill becomes law.

2004: Care Not Cash Buildings

THC opens 5 SRO hotels through the City's Care-Not Cash funding, including the Graystone Hotel in San Francisco's Union Square.

2006: THC Wins in Supreme Court

Backed by public interest legal organizations from throughout the state, THC wins unanimous victory in California Supreme Court against efforts to put its law office out of business. The Court approves THC's practices, and holds that nonprofit and public interest law firms can use contingency fee agreements and include non-attorneys on their Boards of Directors.

2007: THC Sponsors Uptown Tenderloin Historic District

Graphic of an urban graphitti-style artwork with the words "San Francisco Tenderloin Historic District".

THC submits and wins funding from Mayor's Office to support an application to create the Uptown Tenderloin Historic District. The District eventually includes parts of 33 blocks, over 400 buildings, and the largest collection of SROs of any historic district in the United States. The District was approved by the State in 2008 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

2002: New SRO Sprinkler Law Passed

Photo of an indoor fire-prevention sprinlker actively spraying water.

After over 700 rooms are vacated due to hotel fires, the Clinic leads the successful fight for a law requiring sprinklers in all SRO rooms, improving tenant safety.

2004: Beyond Chron Launched

Logo of Beyond Chron - The Voice of the Rest.

In response to the San Francisco Chronicle's increasingly linking its news coverage to its anti-tenant editorial views, the Clinic creates Beyond Chron, an alternate on-line daily newspaper (www.beyondchron.org). Beyond Chron provides news that the Chronicle either ignores or distorts, and offers an editorial perspective that counters that of the City's business elite.

2005: La Voz Latina Begins

Logo of La Voz Latina del Tenderloin.

With the Latino population as the fastest increasing demographic in the Tenderloin, La Voz Latina organizes Latino immigrant families to speak up for better housing and a safer environment for their children.

2006: THC's 1st Apartment Building - The Galvin

As a result of an innovative approach to affordable housing development, THC teams with builder Joe Cassidy to becomes owner of a newly constructed 56 unit apartment building in SOMA. The Galvin Apartments is named in honor of longtime labor, religious and homeless activist, Sister Bernie Galvin.

2009: HPRP Services Begin

Logo of federal government's Recovery.gov program.

The Clinic offers Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) services to help end the cycle of chronic homelessness. The federal program ended in 2012, but THC was able to provide HPRP services to over 200 clients.


2010: Opening of the 16th Master Lease Hotel

The Mayfair Hotel, a joint venture between Compass Family Services and THC, opens to permanently house single adult tenants, whom have lived successful for at least 1 year in a Housing First hotel, and serve as a temporary shelter for homeless families.

2012: Reduced Lines & Expanded Capacity

The Clinic begins its QuickCheck program, which enables THC tenants to pay rent in their hotels rather than waiting in line to pay at THC offices. This program enables THC to greatly expand its capacity.

2013: G.L.A.D.L.Y. Customer Service Policy

The Clinic commits to its "G.L.A.D.L.Y." Customer Service Policy, pledging to high standards, effective problem solving, and continued efforts to improve THC's services and environments. The acronym G.L.A.D.L.Y. stands for Greet, Listen, Ask questions, Demonstrate empathy, Look for solutions, You're not done – always follow-up

2015: Expanding Shelter Plus Care and Support Services

Illustration of numerous hands raising up with heart symbols in each palm.

Tenderloin Housing Clinic leases the Baldwin Hotel, adding another 186 units to Shelter Plus Care housing in San Francisco and increases the number of case managers throughout the agency. With more case managers on-site to serve tenants, THC is able to further its efforts to provide comprehensive case management services.

2011: THC Core Values

Through a collaborative process with staff input throughout the organization, THC adopts its 10 core values to help guide the agency in its mission.

2012: Women's Floor Opens

Icon of the universal gender symbol for women.

In efforts to increase the sense of security and safety for women living in SRO Hotels, THC converted the top floor of the Hartland Hotel into a Women's Floor. This floor was created to provide a female-only environment for all self-identified women, which can receive referrals from other Housing First providers via the Housing Access Team.

2014: THC Leases the Edgeworth Hotel

The Clinic leases the Edgeworth Hotel on O'Farrell Street. Working to improve this part of the Tenderloin, THC hosts a "Take Back the Block" event in October.

2015: Transitional Housing Department Added

Graphic of a old-style door key superimposed with a house silhouette.

Long focused exclusively on permanent housing, THC partners with San Francisco Adult Probation Department (SFAPD) and San Francisco Collaborative Courts (SFCC) as part of its new Transitional Housing Initiative. The New Horizons, New Roads, and Emergency Stabilization programs within the department offer multiple options for short-term and stabilization housing for those working to reintegrate into the community.