Monday, January 7, 2008

AAPA I-Hotel Open Letter 1969


AAPA newspaper

April 7, 1969

"There is a crisis at the International Hotel on Kearny Street. Demolition of this housing unit looms like a black cloud. Individuals and groups have mobilized to protect the people’s rights; they are striving to fend off the invasion of big business in this area of Manilatown.

What about the hotel residents themselves? How do they view this matter? The Human Rights Commission of San Francisco obtained the following information from a survey:

“Most of the residents of the International Hotel say they wish to remain there until a way can be found that they can relocate as a community in that area. Many are Filipinos some are Chinese. Many are veterans of Bataan. A number of the men support their families in the Philippines, send their sons to college there and then bring them to the United States for better opportunities. Several fathers and sons are sharing rooms in the hotel.

The community kitchen in the hotel, the nearby restaurants, the barber shop and pool hall, the United Filipino Association meeting room, the Manilatown Information Center, and the sidewalk outside are focuses of social and cultural life and friendships. Filipinos from other parts of the Bay Area go to the International Hotel for these cultural relationships.

The residents of the hotel ask ‘Where can we find a place as good as this for $35 a month? If we have to move, will we have to move into worse places? Will we be scattered from our countrymen, the language we speak the foods we eat, the jobs we work at, the friends to help us, the com­munity kitchen where we can even cook the fish we catch?’

(The above excerpt is from a letter to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors dated March 28, from the Human Rights people.)

International Hotel is a low-rent dwelling unit. The people who live there are elderly, disabled veterans, and other persons who cannot afford the higher rents elsewhere. They do not want to become separated from their friends, security of familiar surroundings, a budget they can barely afford, that is, the residents ask not to disrupt and uproot their whole way life.

The International Hotel stands at a critical point in its existence. Eviction notices were given Monday, April 21, and demolition proceedings will begin June 1st. The tenants will be thrown out without any guarantee of adequate housing. The hotel residents are being harassed by the management to vacate immediately, the power in the community kitchen is being turned on and off, the garbage has not been taken out, the bathrooms have been allowed to get dirty, linen is provided only when demanded, But what is most devastating is the collaboration of the City and hotel owner to destroy this residence for a parking lot.

The tenants and the Filipino community are united in their stand:

1) DESIRE TO STAY—-renovation of building with money received from fire insurance.

2) CITY OF SF TO INSURE THE WELFARE OF ITS PEOPLE--because of critical shortage of low-cost housing, which people can afford ~ the city should intervene in the destruction of this low-rent dwelling.

3) MAINTAIN THE COMMUNITY--if relocation is inevitable, the tenants move only if adequate housing is provided and tenants are moved as a community.

4) HABITATION AROUND KEARNY ST.-CHINATOWN AREA--if residents must be relocated, they are placed around the Kearny St.Chinatown area."