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SAN FRANCISCO — As city officials in San Francisco tout their affordable housing expansion efforts, residents say some buildings are being neglected.
Last year, the city pledged $10 million for elevator repairs in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) buildings and residential hotels. But it sits undelivered for dire maintenance needs like at the Cadillac Hotel, where residents have needed to be rescued by firefighters after being stuck in between floors.
The dramatic rescue efforts have become part of regular life at the Tenderloin hotel where resident Mark Parsons has lived for over a decade.
“I’m furious that anybody, any family, who has their reputation at stake here, this hotel would willfully let it…be in this condition,” he told CBS News Bay Area in an interview
After a series of unexpected life changes, Parsons got a new start in 2009 living in supportive housing subsidized by the city. But he says the Cadillac’s only elevator is leaving residents — many of whom are disabled — stranded in their units, on occasion for weeks at a time.
“Huge amount of anxiety, you know? Because I’ve been stuck in it for four times. One time with another person. Never in my wheelchair,” Parsons explained.
He spoke to CBS News Bay Area in a nearby park, he’s fearful that taking a camera inside the building would lead to retaliation from building management. He says he’s been threatened before, but he continues to document the unnerving scenes.
“It’s 143 steps round trip, where I live on the fourth floor of the highest floor,” he said. “They just don’t really take our safety seriously. That’s the bottom line.”
Financial help was secured in 2022 when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved $10 million for elevator fixes at SRO housing.
But frustrations are boiling over to City Hall where Supervisor Dean Preston — whose district includes the Cadillac Hotel — says the funds are being held up unnecessarily.
“There is absolutely no good reason that it would take a year and a half from when the funds were approved,” Preston said. “The board’s done its job of authorizing the funds, so it is 100% the mayor and the HSH’s [Department of Homelessness and Supporting Housing] responsibility to go ahead and issue these funds and they’re not denying that they just keep delaying and delaying and delaying that but in the meantime people are struggling.”
Parsons calls the malfunctions a “really dire situation. It’s like a crisis ten years in the making.”
The California Department of Industrial Relations is responsible for elevator inspections. It happens just once a year and this year the department red tagged the elevator for inconsistent stops.
In a statement to CBS, the department said “elevators are required to be properly serviced and maintained by the building owner and their certified elevator maintenance company.”
They explained the elevator was not landing at each floor on the day of the inspection and elevator maintenance later fixed the issue. It was cleared for use days later.
The San Francisco Fire Department has received at least 32 calls for rescues from the Cadillac Hotel elevator since the start of the year.
But the issue lies in the hands of the building owner — Reality House West — which is responsible for elevator maintenance and repairs. They have not responded to multiple requests for comment.
The mayor’s housing office, which is responsible for directing the funds, says the $10 million was expected to be released in the summer of 2023, but is now projected to be released by the end of the year.
“The goal of the Elevator Modernization Program (“EMP”) is to improve quality of life and increase accessibility for tenants residing in SRO hotels by modernizing and altering antiquated elevators that may otherwise affect the health and safety of residents,” said the HSH. “We believe the Cadillac Hotel would be eligible to submit a request.”
First published on September 21, 2023 / 2:55 PM PDT
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