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The Mission's Beloved Tamale Lady Is Accused of Being a Slumlord
Scott Lucas | Photo: Courtesy Google Street Views | August 8, 2014
But is she really just a victim of predatory loans?
Though she's best know for the delicious tamales that she used to sell at bars like Zeitgest, it turns out that Virginia Ramos is a landlord too. And, according to at least one tenant at her fourplex building on 24th Street, she's not the best. She's "a slumlord," one of them, who requested anonymity, told Mission Local, which has a great writeup of the controversy.
Depending on whom you ask, Ramos, who is working to open a brick-and-mortar tamale store on 16th, is either the victim of a predatory loan or a negligent owner. Maybe both. Mission Local recently spoke to tenants in her building, which Ramos bought in 2008, and "most complained about a lack of maintenance." Complaints made by tenants include a toilet out of order for months, a half-constructed and potentially illegal basement unit, kitchen vents missing fans, and a dispute over the installation of a security camera in the front of the building. They said that most of the time, they take repairs into their own hands—and pay out of pocket.
The story seems to be more complicated than one of simple neglect. Many of the tenants describe Ramos as a distant but relatively friendly landlord who lacks the funds to keep the building in proper repair. Ramos bought the building in August 2008 on a $500,000 interest-only loan that she seems not to have kept pace with. The bank currently has a lien on the property. For her part, Ramos says that once her new tamale location is open, she'll have the funds to deal with the building.
Things could be worse. Most of the residents report paying far below market rate for their units.