Lee family bids heartfelt good-bye to longtime home 

click to enlarge Gum Gee Lee | Poon Heung Lee
  • Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Gum Gee Lee, and Poon Heung Lee stand in front of the Jackson Street apartment they used to call home. The Lees left their home Tuesday after being evicted under the Ellis Act.

On Tuesday evening, Gum Gee Lee carried a few plastic stools down the stairs of her apartment at 1508-A Jackson St. and said goodbye to her family's San Francisco home of 34 years.

"I don't feel good about this," the 73-year-old said in Cantonese before going back inside to pick up more belongings. "I don't know where we will go next but we have no choice. We have to go."

Still, Gum Gee Lee; her husband, Poon Heung Lee, 79; and their 48-year-old daughter, who is disabled, stopped holding ground nearly a month after their Ellis Act eviction, where hundreds rallied to block the Sheriff's Department from carrying out the court order.

Volunteers with the Chinatown Community Development Center took the family's remaining furniture to a storage facility Tuesday and drove them to a hotel for the time being.

"That is the only option they have at this point," said the development center's policy director, Gen Fujioka, adding that "there definitely are more options than they had a month ago" for temporary housing.

Earlier in the day, the Lees' lawyer, Omar Calimbas of the Asian Law Caucus, had threatened to take the matter to court if landlord Matthew Miller did not pay the full second half of relocation fees owed to the elderly and disabled tenants.

"The family has the right to full compensation as a matter of law," Calimbas said.

Miller's lawyer, Jeff Woo, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

With the full compensation coming the Lees' way, tenant advocates decided to refrain from another protest today, when the overdue eviction was scheduled to be carried out.

Shortly after the first eviction and demonstration Sept. 25, Mayor Ed Lee intervened to help the Lees get a 10-day stay. Their second 12-day reprieve ended on Sunday.

"The time meant a lot," Fujioka said. "I think it's pretty remarkable the progress that has been made so far, the conversation of trying to address evictions, and I don't think the story is finished."

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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