Urban Green Investments, the landlord that was seeking to evict 98-year-old Mary Phillips from her apartment of 50 years in the Mission Dolores neighborhood, said Friday afternoon that she has been given “the opportunity to remain in her home for the rest of her life with no cost.” But that might not tell the whole story.
An attorney at the firm representing Phillips said the statement is an attempt to deflect bad press.
The e-mail, signed by David McCloskey of Urban Green Investments, states that the offer was first communicated to Phillips’ lawyer in March and has continued to be a topic of negotiation.
“Contrary to recent reports, we have always planned to provide for Mary in this way,” McCloskey wrote. “We have made no comment about Ms. Phillips’ situation to this date as we have been negotiating with her attorney in good faith, but the recent media reports have made today's comment necessary in order to clarify the facts.”
Steve Collier, a senior attorney at the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, said McCloskey’s message was “motivated by bad public opinion, not by any altruism.”
Collier pointed out that Urban Green Investments – which he and some local politicians consider one of largest real estate speculators in The City – made the offer nearly a year after Phillips received her Ellis Act eviction notice in April 2013. The company filed a lawsuit to evict Phillips but has not served it, Collier said.
Meanwhile, the company is aggressively pursuing legal action to force out Sarah Brant, a Balboa High School teacher who watches over Phillips and is the 98-year-old’s only remaining neighbor at 55 Dolores St.
“Mary can’t agree to [the offer] because she can’t live there by herself and [Urban Green has] been told that,” Collier said. “You think she can stay there in a construction zone by herself without anyone else, while they tear the place down around her?”
McCloskey did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
He and staff were nowhere to be found when several dozen Eviction-Free San Francisco activists on Wednesday staged a protest outside the Urban Green offices at 1746 Union St.