Broken elevators a problem at SF public housing complexes

A rally highlighted a problem at many of SF's public housing complexes for seniors and the disabled -- elevators that don't work.
February 6, 2014 7:24:35 PM PST
The elevators that San Francisco public housing residents depend on are not always there when they need them. And it's not just that they are waiting for the next one to arrive; too often they're just not running. The problem is so bad that some seniors have been stuck without a way out for days.

At City Hall Thursday there was a demonstration of a problem that has plagued residents of some low income buildings and public housing in San Francisco for years.

Broken elevators are an all too real challenge for Mira Ingram.

"A few months ago both elevators were broken and I was stuck in my apartment for three weeks," she said.

That's because she's in a wheelchair on the 8th floor of a public housing building designed specifically for seniors and the disabled.

"My friend had to do everything for me, like bring me food, get my mail," Ingram explains. "I had to cancel all my doctor appointments."

Steve Dollar lives at another complex for seniors and the disabled where, yes, the one elevator is often broken.

"They have had to have the fire department come out here and get them out," he said.

"This is really, in many ways, a litigation waiting to happen because we are impacting the life and safety of our residents," San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim said.

There are nearly 22,000 low income residents living in public housing. Nearly half of them are seniors. Fixing all the broken elevators would cost more than $8 million. The federal government is responsible, but Mayor Ed Lee is now stepping in and has wrangled some money from the feds.

"So now we got itemized things that we're funding that specifically includes the broke elevators in these very units that people have complained about or gotten stuck in," Mayor Lee said.

It's unclear exactly when, but those fixes will eventually benefit people like Mira Ingram.

Residents in low income single room hotels, many of them privately owned, still need help.