Portrait Gallery: Faces of San Francisco Affordable Housing
It’s a hard time to find an affordable place in the city. Rents have climbed 10 percentat a time of year when they’re normally going down. Exacerbating the problem, San Francisco lost millions of dollars in low-income housing funding when Gov. Jerry Brown dissolved redevelopment agencies back in February.
In San Francisco, “affordable housing” is mainly a network of low-cost apartments spread throughout the city that house a variety of residents from the elderly, disabled, veterans, families, formerly homeless to immigrants.
Even when there was redevelopment funding, it was still difficult for low-income residents to land an apartment. For instance at Crocker Amazon Seniors Apartments there were 1,600 applicants for 37 studio and one-bedroom apartments when it opened in 2005.
Supporters of Proposition C on the Nov. 6 ballot are asking voters to earmark funding for affordable housing and down payment assistance. Mayor Ed Lee’s proposal would create a Housing Trust Fund which would amount to $1.4 billion over the next 30 years. It would develop 30,000 affordable rental units over the next three decades.
In an effort to see who Proposition C would directly impact, The California Report’s advanced intern Catherine Borgeson visited residents under the San Francisco Council of Community Housing Organizations, which includes 20 non-profit housing organizations and religious groups.
Name: Fred DeJamco (age 40) and Jeamylee DeJamco (age 42)
Housing: The Curran House, Studio apartment for three people
Rent: 30 percent of income
Fred DeJamco, his wife Jeamylee and their 10 year-old son Jeremy have lived in their studio apartment for almost two years. Prior to the Curran House, they lived at a different Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC) building called Franciscan Towers. A fire broke out at the Franciscan Towers last year, displacing all of the residents (more than 100 households). The DeJamcos were entered into a lottery along with the other displaced tenants. They were relocated to the Curran House with the winning ticket #29.
The Curran House is an affordable housing development for low-income families. It is a 67-unit complex with 14 studios, 15 one-bedrooms, 14 two-bedrooms and 24 three-bedroom apartments. Residents have access to on-site support services such as after school programs and social workers. It was completed in 2005 and cost $22.6 million to develop.
Name: Lorenzo Listana (age 52) and Gabbie Listana (age 4)
Housing: The Curran House, 3-bedroom apartment for four people
Lorenzo Listana and his family have lived in the Tenderloin for the past six years. After immigrating to San Francisco from the Philippines, Listana began organizing Filipinos in the community. In September 2010 he became a Community Organizer for the TNDC. Listana oversees the roof-top community garden for the Curran House residents. Currently his two sons, Nicu (age 19) and Paolo (age 20), live away from home to attend college while he, his wife Cecil (age 45) and his two younger daughters, Gabbie and Precious (age 15), live together in their three bedroom apartment.
Name: Connie Moy (age 82)
Housing: Maria Manor, Studio apartment for one person
Connie Moy has lived in the Maria Manor for the past 16 years. Her 150 square-foot unit is on the top floor overlooking the city. The room includes a kitchenette and a bathroom.
Connie Moy came to San Francisco after retiring as a Blackjack dealer in Reno, Nevada. She immigrated to the United States from China in 1947. She has seven children, 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She volunteers her free time by distributing produce and making coffee for fellow Maria Manor residents. She also acts as a translator for many of her neighbors—approximately 40 percent of the tenants are monolingual Chinese speakers.
The Maria Manor is a 119-unit complex for extremely low-income and disabled seniors. Renovation of this development was completed in 2003 at the cost of $12.7 million.
Name: Guizhi Shen (age 82)
Housing: Maria Manor, Studio apartment for one person
Guizhi Shen has lived across the hallway from Connie Moy for the past 14 years. Her unit is the mirror-image of her neighbor’s but she has a view of trees rather than buildings. Before coming to San Francisco, Guizhi Shen was an Opera singer in Shenghui, China. She is actively involved with a social club for Maria Manor residents from Shenghui.
Name: Ralph Reyes (age 64)
Housing: Bishop Swing Community House, Studio apartment for one person
Ralph Reyes has lived at the Bishop Swing Community House for the past year. Before renting his 349 square-foot unit, he lived with his grandmother for six years. After she passed away, he spent the next 18 months staying at two to three different shelters. Reyes served as a cook in the Army during the Korean War. His income comes from his pension, disability and unemployment benefits. His goals include focusing on his health and practicing the guitar.
The Bishop Swing Community House is home to 134 formerly homeless men and women. Each unit is single room occupancy and includes a mini-kitchen (no oven) and full private bathroom. Case workers and clinicians are available to help residents retain their housing. The 88,000 square foot building is property to the Episcopal Community Services.