San Francisco Tenants Union




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $189,845
Expenses: $202,520
Assets: $169,310


Deepa Varma

President's Salary:



  1. A Form 990: San Francisco Tenants Union, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Form 990, Page 2, Part IV, List of Officers, Directors, Trustees, and Key Employees, Deepa Varma.

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The San Francisco Tenants Union (SFTU) is a left-of-center rent-control and housing advocacy group. It formed when San Francisco initiated its rent control program in the late 1970s. SFTU uses political means through ballot initiatives, elections, and legislative efforts to promote “affordable housing.” 1 SFTU was founded in 1970. 2


In 2013, in response to a series of evictions under the California “Ellis Act” that allows property owners to evict tenants and go out of business or change a building’s use,3 San Francisco Tenants Union, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Just Cause released a series of proposals to change the state law. If there is a no-fault eviction, SFTU recommended that a ten-year moratorium on the conversion, demolition, or merging of rental units by developers be suspended. The action would keep rental property owners from applying the Ellis Act provisions to a tenant. 4

In 2013, the SFTU helped launch the “Eviction-Free Summer” campaign. The campaign targeted a landowner in San Francisco over alleged retaliatory evictions. 5

In 2014, SFTU opposed the use of Airbnb and VRBO in San Francisco. The former executive director of SFTU described Airbnb as “a huge problem.” 6

In 2018, SFTU, Tenants Together, and Dean Preston (D), a democratic socialist candidate for the San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, formed a committee to pass Proposition F. 7 Proposition F, passed by voters in 2018, provides residential tenants in San Francisco whose landlord is attempting an eviction process access to legal representation by the city. 8 Political activists from the Democratic Socialists of America and SFTU went to “every political club, group, nonprofit, everyone across the city, to pitch the ballot measure and talks to folks,” according to reporting in the radical-left journal Jacobin. 9

Present Activities

The San Francisco Tenants Union operates a legal clinic to assist renters. Most inquiries to SFTU deal with potential evictions. SFTU works to “strengthen eviction protections and mitigate evictions via increased relocation benefits.” SFTU is also supportive of an “anti-speculation tax” to keep real-estate investors from purchasing rent-controlled properties. 10

The SFTU opposes the use of the Ellis Act in San, Francisco. The Ellis Act allows companies to evict tenants if the company no longer operates as a rental property owner. 11

In 2020, Supervisor Dean Preston (D) put forth a ballot initiative to voters to double taxes on properties in San Francisco valued at more than $10 million with their associated sales. SFTU is in favor of the proposal. Executive director Deepa Varma endorsed the idea: “this measure would deter real estate speculation, encourage owners to sell to the city or affordable housing providers.” 12

The SFTU has resided in the same building as the National Lawyers Guild since 1980. Ted Gullicksen was the longest running executive director of SFTU. 13 Prior to his death in 2014, Mr. Gullicksen was promoting Proposition G, a plan “designed to deter real estate speculators from evicting tenants and flipping the property by putting a steep tax on the quick resale of multi-unit buildings.” 14 The proposal failed.


  1. “San Francisco Tenants Union.” Crunchbase. Accessed May 20, 2020.
  2. Shaw, Randy. “1980-1991: RENT CONTROL WARS.” FoundSF. Accessed May 20, 2020.
  3. “Ellis Act: State Law Restricting Change in Use of Rental Property.” Stimmel Law, 2020.
  4. Chuang, Stephanie. “Ellis Act Evictions Rising in San Francisco.” NBC Bay Area. NBC Bay Area, October 24, 2013.
  5. “’Eviction-Free Summer’ Campaign Protests Landlord Over Mission District Evictions.” Fog City Journal, July 3, 2013.
  6. Said, Carolyn. “Airbnb Profits Prompted S.F. Eviction, Ex-Tenant Says.” SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle, January 22, 2014.
  7. Day, Meagan. “‘People Are Homeless Because of the Failure of Our Capitalist Economy.’” Jacobin, June 9, 2019.
  8. Brinklow, Adam. “SF Voters Guarantee Lawyers for Evicted Tenants.” Curbed SF. Curbed SF, June 7, 2018.
  9. Day, Meagan. “‘People Are Homeless Because of the Failure of Our Capitalist Economy.’” Jacobin, June 9, 2019.
  10. Lien, Tracey. “Inside San Francisco’s Housing Crisis.” Accessed May 20, 2020.
  11. Vega, Cecilia M. “SAN FRANCISCO / Renters Getting Deja Vu to Bad Old Dot-Com Days / Evictions to Make Way for Condos on Rise.” SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle, January 13, 2012.
  12. Sabatini, Joshua. “Preston Proposes Measure to Double Tax on Higher-End Property Sales to Benefit Renters.” The San Francisco Examiner. The San Francisco Examiner, May 4, 2020.
  13. Fieber, Jennifer. “SF Rent Control Turns 40.” 48 hills, June 5, 2019.
  14. Coté, John. “Ted Gullicksen, a Fighter for S.F. Tenants’ Rights, Dies.” SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle, October 15, 2014.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 2008

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990EZ $189,845 $202,520 $169,310 $28,183 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2016 Dec Form 990 $371,552 $295,879 $151,877 $1,691 N $84,247 $291,791 $12 $0
    2015 Dec Form 990EZ $176,704 $123,087 $76,751 $5,301 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2014 Dec Form 990EZ $145,285 $129,162 $41,726 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2013 Dec Form 990EZ $103,567 $111,898 $23,963 $3,076 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2012 Dec Form 990EZ $91,940 $97,594 $15,750 $3,290 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2011 Dec Form 990EZ $154,493 $150,734 $32,725 $4,851 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2010 Dec Form 990EZ $105,572 $101,883 $28,797 $4,851 $0 $0 $0 $0

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    San Francisco Tenants Union

    558 CAPP ST
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94110-2516