Chinatown SF SRO family to go to White House Easter Egg Roll thanks to community donations

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Saturday, April 8, 2023
Community sends SF Chinatown SRO family to White House Easter Egg Roll
A single room occupancy family from Chinatown San Francisco will go to the White House Easter Egg Roll thanks to community donations.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A San Francisco family living in a single room occupancy hotel in Chinatown has a chance of a lifetime.

Thanks to community support, the Su family is going to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

Every day, Xiaoping Su comes home to a 100-square-foot unit in San Francisco Chinatown that is packed with all her personal belongings.

Su, her husband, and their 15- and 9-year-old daughters have lived there for 11 years.

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They pay $700-hundred dollars a month to live in a 10-by-10 unit in a single room occupancy hotel -- an SRO.

It's tough to see, even tougher for most people to process.

''These are communal living situations. The rooms are typically 80 to 100 square feet, no private kitchen, no private baths. You are sharing. You are sharing all facilities," said Malcolm Yeung, executive director of Chinatown Community Development Center.

About 350 families with children still live in SROs in San Francisco's Chinatown. Pre-pandemic, that number was about 500 families, according to Yeung.

"If you can imagine raising your kids in that environment. There's no privacy and no space to live or breathe. These are literally smaller than dorm rooms that people are sending their college kids to. Try raising your family in that kind of environment," Yeung said.

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"She told me life living in a SRO is very difficult," said Sandy Jiang who translated for Su. "It's very challenging because the space is very limited. Her two daughters have to fight over a table to do homework."

ABC7News partner, the SF Standard newspaper and reporter Han Li, have done extensive reporting on these challenging SRO housing conditions. And they even highlighted efforts to help the Su family get to the White House.

Yeung was floored when the White House and a group called National CAPACD reached out and asked who they should invite to the annual Easter Egg Roll.

"We were blown away. How often do you get to go to the White House, roll Easter eggs with the Easter bunny, President Biden and Vice President Harris?" said Yeung.

Chinatown CDC decided it should be an SRO family with kids.

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"...Our kids who live in single room occupancy hotels, here in Chinatown--kids who don't have opportunities like this and don't have opportunities to get out of San Francisco very much," said Yeung. "Any opportunity to get outside or to inspire a little bit of hope, to spark something in these families, these kids, I think we want to grab those opportunities."

Chinatown CDC did a random drawing with the 350 SRO families in Chinatown they are in contact with and the Su family was selected.

And from there, it came to be that Xiaoping Su and her youngest daughter Fifianna would go -- along with Chinatown CDC staffer Sandy Jiang who'd be an interpreter.

We asked Su what this opportunity means to her.

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"She said she's very surprised. She would only dream of this opportunity. She's very happy and very thankful. And she's very excited about chance to see the President," said Jiang.

A huge challenge of the trip was how to get Su and her daughter and staff member to the White House.

On Wednesday, Chinatown CDC launched a GoFundMe campaign hoping to raise $6000 for last minute airfare, transportation, and lodging.

A day later, they'd surpassed their goal by $3,000 dollars.

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"That is quite amazing. Thank you to the entire San Francisco community," said Yeung.

Jiang says Su was nearly moved to tears.

"She felt happy and sad at the same time. She has rarely traveled outside of San Francisco. And space is very confined in a SRO," said Jiang. "She's extremely grateful. She hopes community will continue to support more people."

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