Shoppers rush from store to store on the crowded streets of San Francisco Chinatown buying groceries and other items. Tourists marvel at the ducks hanging in the windows and enjoy the Chinese pastries or dim sum.
Upstairs above the shops, families cram themselves into one room apartments known as SROs or Single room occupancy units. They share a bathroom and kitchen with other tenants on the floor. Conditions can at times be described as shoddy.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed today announced that since 2019, the city will have moved out 270 Chinatown families living in those SROs into more stable housing by 2024 . That’s more than half the 500 families estimated to have lived in the one room units.
She spoke from the park that’s often described as the living room of Chinatown, Portsmouth Square.
“This is a big deal because we all worked together.” Breed said, according to the San Francisco Standard. “So that we can ensure that folks have a way to live in dignity.”
She said the families are able to move out with money from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD).
A report from the 2001 census found that as many as 760 children between the ages of 0 and 12 were living in SROs at the time. In the succeeding decades, the number of families living there had grown.
SROs are “not an environment where children should be raised,” said Malcolm Yeung of Chinatown Community Development Center. “For a lot of SRO families, this is the only option they have when they start in San Francisco.”
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