SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — More than 100 people crowded into Mayor London Breed’s office Wednesday saying they wouldn’t leave until she agreed to meet with them.
The demonstrators, many of them senior citizens, want the mayor to allocate a half a billion dollars toward affordable housing subsidies for seniors who cannot afford to rent their apartments in San Francisco.
“At my age, I’m 65, I’m still working in order to be living where I’ve been living for many years,” Irma Soberanis said.
— Susie Steimle (@SusieKPIX) December 5, 2019
For more than 90 minutes, the group Faith In Action, Bay Area sang, prayed and refused to leave until Breed’s staff agreed to schedule a sit-down meeting with the mayor herself.
“I think we’re all just feeling disrespected that the mayor is making it so difficult to meet with faith leaders, elders and students,” John Kirkley said.
“Just to be clear, I really understand where they’re coming from,” Breed said.
She says she’s willing to work with this group to accomplish the goal, pointing out that the city is taking steps to help seniors.
This year’s city budget includes $7 million in new funding for housing subsidies for seniors, plus $6 million in subsidies from the Department of Disability and Aging Services. Prop A, which voters approved in November, also includes $150 million for new affordable senior housing properties.
Earlier this year, Breed introduced a charter amendment that would have rezoned public land for affordable housing and teacher housing. San Francisco’s board of supervisors voted that down.
“So when I’m proposing legislation to the board, it would be nice to see this group march on city hall and demand this board support the policies that help us build housing [for] seniors, who we know need it yesterday,” Breed said.
What they all say they want to see more of is what Patricia Enriquez has: she’s been living in the International Hotel, a 100% affordable housing complex for low income seniors in Chinatown.
Enriquez pays 30% of her income toward rent. She knows if it weren’t for this place, she couldn’t live in the city.
The I-Hotel is not exempt from stories of seniors being pushed out. Nearly 200 people were evicted during redevelopment of the neighborhood in the 1970s. Riot police infamously pulled seniors living in the area into the street. The story is etched in the widows of the hotel.
The evicted elders held signs that read, “I’m old, I’m tired, I don’t want to move.”
Demonstrators in the mayor’s office Wednesday sang a similar tune, “No nos moveran,” meaning “We won’t move.” They say action is urgent if we want to prevent more seniors from being pushed out.
To read more of Susie Steimle’s PROJECT HOME, click here.