SAN FRANCISCO – To commemorate the 38th anniversary of the evictions of the International Hotel or the I-Hotel, the community and tenants rights advocates honored the eviction fighters who fought in the 70s and those who continue to fight today.
In 1977 the tenants of the I-Hotel, many of whom were Filipino, were forcibly evicted from their homes so that real estate developers could tear the building down to expand the financial district.
Even though the building was rebuilt 30 years later for affordable housing, the fight continues with reports of more people being evicted from their homes in the city to make way for complexes with high monthly rentals.
“There’s a lot of similarities,” said Tony Robles of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. “We have a situation where you have a lot of capital from overseas. You have short term rentals. You have developers that want to build on lands that are premium over here.”
Robles also cites how developers tend to target seniors and that many have suffered from health related problems and even ended up dying due to the stress that comes with being evicted.
“We’re tired of being treated like the furniture that came with the place when people moved here,” said Robles. “It’s good to see young people following suit and following the examples set here by the elders of the I-Hotel.”
Many Fil-Am community advocates are taking the fight to the mayor and other city officials to call for justice.
“We need to make sure that policies and government is working for the people and we need to continue fighting not just 38 years ago,” said community advocate Angelica Cabande. “We need to continue fighting and strengthening tenants rights protection, making sure the Filipino heritage district in the South of Market is passed before any development is moved forward.”
Teresa Dulalas is a single mother who has been evicted three times says that the I-Hotel situation is a sign of history repeating itself.
“I don’t know if it’s time or if it is as a cycle that it goes around but right now when I look at it it’s really important we know what’s happening in the community concerning around the Filipino Americans and the struggle going on ever since,” said Dulalas.
She also says that lessons were learned from that struggle so they can continue to fight for tenant rights today.
“If we don’t fight who will,” asks Dulalas. “We will continue doing it to let people know that there is a struggle happening here.”
These advocates are calling for expanded tenant protections, regulation of short term rentals and more affordable housing.