By Austin Meyer
San Francisco resident Benito Santiago, 63, lived in his Mission District apartment 37 years before getting his Ellis Act eviction notice in November 2013. Santiago is one of an increasing number of San Francisco seniors who are facing rising rents and eviction.
Santiago — a ballroom-dance instructor and teacher for special needs children in the San Francisco Unified School District — is energetic yet frail. He walks with a cane and wears an array of colored cowboy hats.
For nearly four decades, Santiago has called his apartment on Duboce Avenue home. Today, each room is a time capsule. Drums and percussion instruments line the floors. Dance instruction books paint the shelves. In one room, a sleeping pad and tarp make up his bed, an image that calls back memories of Santiago’s homeless days before getting his apartment.
“I have a lot of history here,” said Santiago. “I’ve gone from a starving artist hustling for dance students to having a real job.”