San Francisco disabled resource center struggles to relocate

September 4, 2013 7:45:33 PM PDT
A longtime resource center for the disabled in San Francisco is hoping to move to a new facility because of concerns over the safety of its old site. There's only one thing that's holding them back -- money. It's a story we first learned about last month at an ABC7 Listens community meeting in Chinatown.

The Independent Living Resources Center on Mission near Second Street has been helping people with disabilities for more than three decades. It has grown dramatically and offers a full range of services to more than 500 regular clients. Thousands more receive information and referrals.

"What we're trying to do here is help folks when disability strikes, help them get back up and keep fighting," said Jessie Lorenz, the executive director of the center.

Lorenz says many of the clients have invisible disabilities. She explained they see people with "traumatic brain injuries, a lot of folks with psychiatric problems. But we also have a very large population of mobility, hearing or visual disabilities."

Stuart Christie is a regular client who had a serious brain injury. He told us, "They've allowed me to accept my limitations after the brain aneurism and to live with them in a respectful, dignified way."

The center hopes to move to a newer building on Howard Street. The reason its current location poses serious safety concerns. The center is on the third floor of an old building and it has only one elevator. It breaks down regularly and it is so small, it can only fit one wheelchair at a time.

"A lot of the newer scooters and wheelchairs can't even fit in the elevator," said Lorenz.

The center has no open space to accommodate its growing client list. In fact, columns in the middle of rooms here pose a danger to those who are visually impaired. The new facility will be on the first floor. It'll be roomier and designed specifically to accommodate those with physical disabilities.

So far they've raised $400,000 of the $600,000 they need to move into their new place, but they still need $200,000 -- an amount that's been difficult to raise.

If you would like to make a donation to the Independent Living Resource Center in San Francisco you can do so at their website.

If your group would like to host our next ABC7 News Listens Meeting, contact us here.


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