INTERNATIONAL HOTEL PAUNAWA October 1970 p.2
International Hotel Committee
“Chinatown and Manilatown occupy seventy square blocks in
In December 1968 residents of the International Hotel, one of the few low-income housing facilities in the area, were told to vacate the hotel immediately so that a parking lot could be built on the site. Protests and demonstrations were mounted in the community in an effort to save the hotel. Finally the owner of the hotel, Milton Meyer, Inc., agreed to lease the hotel to the United Filipino Association (UFA). The lease, however was never signed. The night before the signing of the lease was to take place, a mysterious fire broke out in the hotel. Three tenants were killed in the blaze that completely destroyed the north wing of the building. Lease negotiations were broken off. Evidence pointed to arson as the cause. However both Milton Meyer Inc. and city officials claimed the fire was an accident.
Immediately afte r the fire, the city moved to condemn the building. They offered to tear the building down for Milton Meyer Inc. at no cost. Hotel tenants and the United Filipino Association decided to fight the condemnation. Picket lines appeared in front of city hall and the offices of Milton Meyer, Inc..
Meanwhile, hotel residents were harassed and intimidated. Kitchen facilities were locked up. Tenants often found themselves without electricity, sanitary facilities were not maintained. The city relocation agency began to displace tenants out of the hotel. Mr. Wing Lew, a resident of the hotel for twenty years, \was forcibly moved to another hotel three blocks away .He struggled back despite the fact that he could barely walk. Unfortunately strained from the constant harassment, some tenants sought other housing.
The picketing and the campaign to mount public opinion against Milton Meyer, Inc. began to have its effect. In the face of declining business and mounting public support for the
The services offered at the International Hotel and the entire block have achieved recognition in the community to help overcome the tremendous problems which plague it.
Recreation programs were created in the hotel. Excursions outside the community, monthly dinners, weekly brunches, and a few other successful programs were Instituted by the workers to reach out to the tenants. The tenants themselves have taken the responsibility of running many of the programs.
The generation gap between young workers and the elderly has been bridged through their interaction at these recreation events. Also, tenant participation in the rebuilding of the hotel has given strength and spirit to the whole hotel community. All in all, the underlying bond between the tenant and the worker is their common goal: to build a new way of life and a new home.
The strength behind the hotel is the people who are served. They come not only from the Chinatown-Manilatown community, but from as far away as