Single room occupancy (SRO) housing units can be a hard place to live, but they provide some of the only affordable housing for many immigrant and low-income families in San Francisco. Many tenants living in SROs face substandard living conditions and harassment from managers, in addition to the threat of eviction and displacement if the owner decides to sell.
For several years, residents at 937 Clay Street, a 73-unit SRO building, found much of the building’s plumbing working improperly and the building poorly maintained. Chinatown Community Development Corporation (Chinatown CDC) helped the residents fight for better housing conditions by organizing them and eventually filing a lawsuit against the property owner with legal counsel from Tenderloin Housing Clinic. Although the building owners started to make essential repairs, Chinatown CDC decided that taking ownership of the building would provide better permanent living conditions and rent stability for residents. HAF played a critical role in financing the purchase and rehabilitation of the building. Even though MOHCD had committed to providing long-term funding for the property, Chinatown CDC needed to transfer the property quickly in order to prevent evictions and to make the building habitable again. The rehabilitation includes replacements to windows, the roof, security systems, and repairing damage to walls and floors, addressing the livability issues raised in the original lawsuit. The transfer of ownership to Chinatown CDC has preserved 73 SRO units as permanent affordable housing and ensured that all residents have a safe, clean place to call home. Read more about tenant organizers like Bella Huang.