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Messages from the Executive Director Print

July 2014

LIFE INSIDE AN SRO (Single-Room Occupancy Hotel)

Dear Chinatown CDC Friends,

Articles about SROs have been in the news lately - Chinatown Tenants Gather Strength and Life Inside S.F.'s Vanishing SROs. Many of you have been on one of my Chinatown Single Room Occupancy (SRO) tours but most of you have not. Chinatown CDC has been working to help families and seniors living in SROs for decades.

I have so many stories of both joy and sorrow that I'd like to share with you. Imagine what it feels like for a family of four living in an 8' x 10' room with two bunk beds, a dresser with a TV on top, and a folding table for eating and studying. There is no room for a bathroom, kitchen, or living room. Instead you have to share two restrooms and kitchen with 30-40 others who live on the same floor. Do you know that In San Francisco, there are more than 30,000 low-income residents living in SRO residential hotels?

Imagine the stress of living in such cramped conditions. One of our SRO moms got beat up in front of her five-year old son because she was in the restroom too long. It can get pretty intense in an SRO hotel where people have to share common toilets, bathrooms and kitchen space. Another time, I got a call from the DA's Office about how to handle a "cleaver swinging" guy who poured hot tea on an 80 year-old senior because he didn't want anyone else to use the common kitchen. The cops did take him away.

Many low-income families have no choice, but to live in a SRO. While disheartening, we do hear stories that lift the heart. A mother was desperate for help because her high school son was diagnosed with a failing heart and he could not return back to their SRO since the building's electricity was unstable to operate the heart machine. He needed a new place to live as well as a heart donor.

Well, guess what? Miracles do happen! We found an apartment that the family could afford with stable electrical power to operate the heart machine. At the same time a heart donor was identified, and along with scores of generous people, we raised funds so that the son and his mom could fly down to Los Angeles for the heart transplant.

At Chinatown CDC, miracles do happen and giving help to the very poor - especially those living in SROs - is a core part of our mission.

Scheduled to be completed in 2015, the Broadway-Sansome Apartments (corner of Broadway and Sansome), will have 75 units of permanent housing for low income families. Help us meet our goal to raise $61,620.00 to provide basic furniture for 18 units. The average cost for furnishing one unit is $3,423.00. For example,

$2,000.00 will purchase two beds
$900.00 will purchase a dining table with four chairs
$400.00 will purchase one sofa
$100.00 will purchase a food basket to welcome a family

and select "Broadway Sansome Apartments" in designation field.

Support Chinatown CDC's work to make available safe and affordable homes for those who need housing. Imagine more kids and families filled with joy and smiles when they have a home to call their own. It is a sound investment in a family's future.

Rev. Norman Fong 方小龍

Executive Director

Executive Director Message Archive


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