SAN FRANCISCO — They’re a staple in every district in the Philippines, and now a Barangay Center could soon be coming to San Francisco.
After meetings held by the South of Market Community Action Network and the Filipino American Development Foundation, the neighborhood’s Filipino community expressed the need for a one-stop shop for several services, including housing, education, and healthcare.
It was similar to a Barangay Hall, the seat of the smallest unit of government in the Philippines.
“The idea of a Barangay center is really a place where you don’t need an appointment, you can drop in, you may not even know what services are available, but someone is trained there that can speak your language, that can help you navigate or identify what the resources are available to Filipinos,” said Raquel Redondiez.
The idea could eventually become a reality, with the backing of the South of Market district’s supervisor Jane Kim.
“We want everyone to understand how to apply for services, housing, or access senior services. These are basic things that we want to connect our residents to.”
Kim says that the several steps one must go through in order to access the city’s resources makes the process more difficult for residents, especially new immigrants.
“This one-stop self help desk can cut through a lot of this bureaucracy and help people understand how to apply for very simple things.”
The Bayanihan House is one possible site for the Barangay center, a physical place meant to streamline the resources spread throughout San Francisco’s SoMA district into one consolidated space, complete with staff fluent in several Filipino languages.
For residents, the center would address several needs within the community.
Even younger Fil-Ams like Mary Claire Amable support the idea.
“Being the daughter of immigrants most of the time, I’m the one helping my parents out when it comes to finding resources because they’re not necessarily the ones looking for them, they don’t know where to look, they don’t know who to talk to,” said Amable.
The support for a Barangay center sends a strong message that our immigrant communities are valued and that they are deserving of support and services, and the city of San Francisco is truly a sanctuary city.
Organizers say if city funding for the proposal is approved, the next steps include finding an accessible location and hiring at least one full-time staff to begin servicing the community.