SF Mayor Lee pledges to fix public housing elevators

SF's mayor says he's found some money to fix broken elevators in public housing complexes that serve seniors and the disabled.
April 17, 2014 7:36:11 PM PDT
Imagine being trapped for days in your own home. In San Francisco, it happens more than you might think. And the city is finally ready to do something about it. There's now word of some relief for those who have been dealing with the pain that broken elevators can cause.

Elevators are the problem and the victims are seniors and disabled people who live in San Francisco's high rise public housing. For years now, they've been pushing the elevator button, not knowing if it will actually show up.

On Thursday Mayor Ed Lee told us he's found at least some of the money to fix it.

Alexandra Elvir lives on the thirteenth floor of Clementina Towers, a public housing high rise in downtown San Francisco. She's been stuck in her home for days at a time. And she's been stuck outside, too.

"When I was stuck out here for almost 12 hours I had to walk upstairs and leave my chair down here and it took me almost 45 minutes to get upstairs," she said.

It's a story that neighbor Terry Bagby sees over and over.

"Folks that are in wheelchairs, walkers, power scooters that cannot access the stairwell, they're like prisoners," Bagby said.

But there may be hope. Mayor Lee says he's found some money.

"About $5.2 million to go right at the top buildings that have the most challenging elevators," he said.

It's a big dent in the more than $9 million he says are needed to fix all the public housing elevators.

"Where he found it I don't know unless he's a magician," Bagby said.

Despite some skepticism, it's a move disability advocates are applauding.

"We've all been speaking out, and the mayor and the city are listening and putting some money into this," said Senior and Disability Action Director Jessica Lehman.

But Lehman says to remember, it's only public housing. She wishes the city would help fix broken elevators in SROs, single room occupancy hotels, like ones on Sixth Street.

"Unfortunately, with the housing crisis we're in, it's often the only option for many poor seniors and people with disabled in our city," Lehman said.

The mayor's housing director says money to fix things is tight.

Mayor Lee says he's committed to look for more money:

"It's a promise to us that people who live in these housing units are never to be considered anything other than full residents of San Francisco," he said.

As for Clementina Towers, the mayor's office says they could see repairs within a few weeks, just as soon as that money gets transferred to the housing authority.

Residents there, ever skeptical, say they'll believe it when the contractors show up.


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