SAN FRANCISCO — Mayor London Breed cuts the ribbon to signify the preservation of a building historically known as the Gran Oriente Filipino hotel.
Through a partnership with Filipino community organizations and the Mission Housing Development Corporation, 24 units of affordable housing will be available and all existing tenants will remain.
Affordable housing advocates say that today’s celebration is a victory over the rising issue of gentrification in the city.
“I think community members around the city and county of San Francisco and the Bay Area and beyond are watching exactly what’s happening in the heart of the Filipino cultural heritage district, and watching how the community is taking back its cultural assets, partnering with non-profits and housing organizations to really not only sustain but, in the long term, empower.”
Mayor Breed admits that San Francisco has not done a good job with housing productions through the years — which she pledges to fix.
“Between 2010 and 2015 while our economy continues to boom and we create 8 jobs, we create 1 new unit of housing for those jobs… I am committed to making sure that we invest more in small site acquisition programs like this so that we can have incredible block parties where we are saving housing.”
The Gran Oriente was purchased in the 1920s, when Filipinos faced discrimination and harassment and most were unable to purchase property.
The single room occupancy building provided affordable housing for recent immigrants and their families.
“It’s this legacy that SOMA Pilipinas is continuing to fight for. It’s for the Filipino community to stay in the neighborhood to be able to strive in the city and maintain our legacy,” said Raquel Redondiez.
The memory of Steve Arevalo, a staunch community advocate and tenant of the Gran Oriente, was honored at the dedication.
SOMA Pilipinas is now trying to get the building recognized and protected as a historic site with a federal registry.
They are also working with mission housing so that by 2025 the building will be transferred to a Filipino organization.