Mayor Breed Celebrates Historic Number of Chinatown SRO Families Housed

By the end of this fiscal year, 270 families will have moved from SROs into stable housing since 2019. Largest reduction of families living in SROs in over 20 years.
September 28, 2023

Mayor London N. Breed today announced that by June 2024, 270 Chinatown families living in Single-Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels will have transitioned to stable housing since 2019, the largest decrease in the number of families living in SRO settings in over 20 years. This 55% reduction is the result of collaborative work and streamlined efforts between the Mayor’s Office, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD), the Housing Authority of the City and County of San Francisco, Chinatown Community Development Center (Chinatown CDC) and SRO Families United Collaborative. 

“This is big win for families in Chinatown as we work together to continue to offer permanent housing that is safe and stable citywide,” said Mayor London Breed. “These encouraging results are also proof that the steps we have taken to deliver affordable housing for individuals of different income levels are keeping families together in their community.” 

On the 2001 Report on the Census of Families with Children Living in Single Room Occupancy Hotels in San Francisco, released in partnership with the City’s Department of Public Health and Chinatown CDC, the SRO Families United Collaboratives found that 450 families, including 760 children between the ages of 0 and 12, were living in SRO settings. A typical room in an SRO hotel is a single 100-square foot room with shared bathrooms and kitchen facilities. 

San Francisco saw an increase in the number of Chinatown families living in SROs in 2019, reaching approximately 500. Under Mayor Breed’s direction, MOHCD led the SRO Families Rental Subsidy Program to help support families with income-based rent subsidies. The Housing Authority of the City and County of San Francisco has also continued to provide families with Housing Choice Vouchers and targeted rental subsidies to support moving families to more suitable and stable locations.  

The significant reduction in the number of families living in SROs in Chinatown over the last four years is the result of this partnership and support.  

"Working together to reform our housing navigation and referral process and dedicating resources to culturally competent support organizations like our SRO Collaboratives, we will be able to re-house approximately 270 Chinatown families living in cramped SRO’s by the end of the fiscal year,” said Board of Supervisor President Aaron Peskin, who also represents Chinatown. "Chinatown continues to be a gateway neighborhood for new immigrants who depend on affordable SRO housing to live – but ultimately our goal is to move them into better housing with improved living conditions where their children have room to do homework, play and thrive. Stable affordable housing is transformative, and the City is committed to continuing to prioritize housing vouchers for SRO families for generations to come.” 

Support Provided by Mayor’s Office of Housing and the Housing Authority 

Since 2020, MOHCD has partnered with Chinatown CDC and SRO Families United Collaborative to provide targeted rental subsidies for SRO families through the subsidy program.  

MOHCD’s subsidy program is supported by $5.3 million in City funding each year. Participating households contribute 30% of their income as part of their monthly rent, with the subsidy covering the remainder. The program aims to help families successfully transition into stable housing while providing high-quality and intensive services, including case management, housing navigation support, housing counseling, help interfacing with landlords, and other direct services.  

Administered by the Housing Authority of the City and County of San Francisco, the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program is a federally funded program that helps very low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. A housing subsidy is paid to the property owner directly by the Authority on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program. The amount the family pays generally does not exceed 30-40% of their adjusted monthly income. 

"The Authority’s ability to assist SRO families is a result of our financial due diligence, strong partnerships with the City, and open communications with CBO’s resulting in housing stability through a consistent subsidy source removing the heavy rent burden on so many of our San Francisco families while simultaneously enhancing the quality of life for families with minor children.” said Tonia Lediju, Chief Executive Officer, Housing Authority of the City and County of San Francisco. 

Chinatown CDC and the SRO Families United Collaborative have been instrumental in working with the partnering agencies to provide multilingual community efforts focused on improving the lives of families with children living in SROs. The SRO Families Collaborative estimates that there will be about 140 families remaining in Chinatown SRO by June 2024. 

“The traditional Chinatown family “dream” used to start with life in an SRO, a starter job in the community, and an eventual move to a multi bedroom home to raise your children.  But for the past decade, the real estate market has made this dream impossible to achieve.  So, the SRO Families advocated for other pathways. This advocacy led to the launch of a Section 8 SRO family preference and SRO Families Rental Subsidy program. In just three years, the outcomes have been stunning.  I want to give a heartfelt thanks to the Mayor, the Housing Authority, and the Board for their leadership in making these programs come to life.” said Malcolm Yeung, Executive Director, Chinatown Community Development Center.