Last summer, SFist broke news about a Section 8 housing project on Golden Gate Avenue in the Western Addition, built in the 1970s by a prominent black church in the neighborhood, that was being put on the market to speculators as having potential to be converted to market rate, with rents between $3,000 and $7,000. The church, the Third Baptist Church which is headed by onetime San Francisco supervisor Rev. Amos Brown, filed a lawsuit against the non-profit it created to build and run the housing complex, and as the Chronicle reports, that lawsuit has now been settled out of court. And the 104-unit housing project, Frederick Douglas Haynes Gardens at 1049 Golden Gate Avenue, will remain affordable.
As a condition of the lawsuit, the entire 11-member board of directors of the non-profit, which is called Third Baptist Gardens, has resigned, and will give no direction to the new board taking their place.
The lawsuit alleged that the non-profit, its board, and the former executive director Rochelle Buford-Williams were "blinded by the riches the gold rush dangles," and "repeatedly engaged in misrepresentation, refus[ing] oversight by the church that created [the non-profit]."
A press release from the church last July stated that they'd seen a seller-side email marketing the property as being able to fetch rents up to $7,000, and the suit alleged that the non-profit stood to make a $40 million profit on the sale of the complex. The non-profit's mission when it was founded in 1969, of course, was not for profit, but to buy land and build this affordable housing complex. And current residents of the complex, some of whom pay just a few hundred dollars a month after their Section 8 vouchers, naturally feared they'd be evicted.
It seems that the complex's mortgage to the federal government, under the Section 8 program, is either paid off or close to being paid off, which led to the board deciding to put it out for bid. Former City Attorney Louise Renne, who represented the church in the suit, tells the Chronicle that this case should serve as a warning to other owners of Section 8 properties whose mortgages may be close to paid.