Homeless families demand affordable housing

May 8, 2009 7:03:12 PM PDT
The recession has more than doubled the number of homeless families waiting for emergency housing in San Francisco. As a result, that means a number of mothers and their families are sleeping in shelters or small hotel rooms for Mother's Day. The situation is so critical, a group of homeless mothers decided to take their case to the mayor's office.

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Families at the rally criticized the mayor for not doing enough for homeless families' housing needs.

The Coalition on Homelessness says in 2007, the average number of families on the waiting list for shelters was 75, but that was before the recession.

"In the summer of 2008, the average doubled to 150 families," says Angelica Cabande, from Coalition on Homelessness.

About two dozen of the protestors stormed into the mayor's office wanting to speak with the mayor directly.

Many in the group were Chinese families living in SROs, or single room occupancy hotels.

Lily Lee immigrated three years ago. One small room is home to lily, her husband, three sons, a daughter and her two-year-old toddler. The family of seven has lived in this SRO for two years. They share the kitchen and bathroom with other tenants. Lily's husband works in a restaurant, but his hours have been cut.

"I have food stamps so we still have some money for food, so our income covers the basic things," says Lee.

The mayor's office says very few homeless families are living on the streets.

"They may be in cramped conditions in SRO's and doubled up with family and friends, but their kids aren't in the streets," says Mayor Gavin Newsom's Human Services Director Trent Rohr.

Rohr says the protestors are ignoring the mayor's accomplishments.

"We've invested over $2.7 million just this last year on rental subsidies for over 300 families, 111 of which have transitioned into permanent housing," says Rohr.

Rohr says they opened more than 160 affordable housing units for homeless families this last year, with 135 more units coming in a few months.

As for a meeting with the mayor, one of his top aides told the protestors, he'd get back to them.

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