SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in San Francisco Tuesday over whether the U.S. Postal Service is required to deliver mail to tenants in single room occupancy (SRO) hotels. The outcome will impact tens of thousands of low-income tenants.

About 30,000 of San Francisco’s poorest residents live in SRO’s and in most cases the post office leaves all the mail for all the tenants in a single pile. The city and the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, under the leadership of Randy Shaw, filed suit over four years ago saying each tenant is entitled to individual mail delivery.

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“Just imagine if you lived in an apartment building and your mail was delivered in a big bulk stack for everyone to go through. I don’t think anyone would accept that,” Shaw said.

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So far the court has sided with the postal service. Shaw said based on the comments at the hearing, the 9th Circuit doesn’t understand that SRO tenants are mostly long-term residents.

“Even though everybody in San Francisco and all the evidence shows that SROs are long-term housing, judges seem to see SROs like hotels,” Shaw said.

The U.S. Postal Service declined to comment on the case, but has argued in the past that SRO’s are hotels and that because of fiscal restraints it can’t afford separate delivery to each tenant

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