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The Benioffs pledge to turn defunct SRO into homeless housing [Updated]

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$6.1 million gift will cover a quarter of City Hall’s plans for the Bristol hotel

The Bristol Hotel in 2011.
The Bristol Hotel in 2011.
Photo by Kaldari

On Thursday, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and wife Lynne Benioff announced plans to pay $6.1 million to help the city lease the Bristol Hotel at 56 Mason and use the Tenderloin building as transitional housing for the formerly homeless.

According to an announcement from Mayor London Breed, the 58-unit SRO will operate as “step up housing,” aimed at onetime homeless renters who are vacating city-provided “supportive housing” units to make way for new residents coming off the streets.

The Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC) will oversee the building, renting apartments out for $500 to $650 per month.

The Benioffs reportedly put up the money at Breed’s request.

Mayor Breed said the SRO plan is part of an effort to “identify other funding sources and fund important programs” while “we wait for new [government] funding to become available.”

The lease for the building covers 20 years, but the gift from the Benioffs makes up the budget for just the first five years.

Commenting on Twitter, Marc Benioff declared, “The answer to homelessness is more homes and more services. Prop. C will bring $300M a year from the city’s top businesses like mine.”

Benioff loudly championed Proposition C, a ballot measure that raises taxes on some of the city’s wealthiest businesses to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for homeless services.

Legal challenges may delay the collection of that revenue; in the meantime, Benioff is putting his money where his mouth is.

The Planning Department dates the four-story Bristol Hotel to 1908. The SRO has been vacant for years after the owners ousted tenants at the end of 2012 to make room for repairs.

Though the removal was supposed to be temporary, the building has remained vacant. Street Sheet reports that “the tenants filed a number of complaints as the years went on, and eventually the Superior Court of California ordered in 2016 that Thakor had to restore the tenants ‘to their units at the Bristol Hotel no later than August 1, 2017.’”

That restoration never happened either, allegedly because of other ongoing litigation. Now it appears the mess is a moot point. Neither the Mayor’s Office nor the Tenderloin Housing Clinic were immediately available to comment on the status of former Bristol residents.

[Update: Michelle Duke, spokesperson for THC, tells Curbed SF, “Any former residents who feel they have rights to re-enter the hotel or who wish to re-enter the hotel should get in contact with the hotel owner.

“Should any former tenants need contact information for the hotel owner, they are welcome to reach out to THC and we would be happy to connect them.”]