On Tuesday night Gum Gee Lee, Poon Heung Lee and their daughter removed the last of their belongings from the San Francisco apartment they’d lived in for over 30 years. Their eviction made final, the family had no choice but to leave their home despite weeks of protest from community groups which drew attention from city council members and sympathy from Mayor Ed Lee.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
The couple, who lived in the two-bedroom unit with their mentally disabled daughter for 34 years, silently loaded a few belongings into a friend’s car just after 8 p.m. and drove away. Relatives and community volunteers worked until after 11 p.m. moving the family’s furniture and other belongings to a storage center.
Building owner Matthew Miller’s attorney, Jeff Woo, said Miller “had great sympathy for the Lees … and we wish them well.” But he said it was impractical to leave the building as is. Recently upgraded tenant-in-common units in the area regularly sell for upward of $1 million apiece.
The Lee family were the last remaining tenants of an old eight-unit building which the new building’s owner plans to remodel and turn into luxury condos. Under California law, Miller had the right to evict the family. Elderly, living on a fixed income and responsible for the care of a daughter dependent on San Francisco health services oriented toward Asian immigrants, the Lees never had many options.
The Lees’ fight to stay in their home became a symbol of the angry clash between Silicon Valley’s new monied class and longtime, lower-income Bay Area residents who are being pushed out of their homes and businesses.
Even with the $22,000 relocation fees they’ll be receiving from Miller, they’ve still yet to find a permanent place to live. “We thought we’d live here until we passed away,” Gum Gee Lee told the San Francisco Chronicle. “And now this. It is all so sad.”