Since its establishment in 1997, the Chinatown Justice Program (formerly Housing Justice Campaign) has worked to improve the living conditions of tenants in San Francisco Chinatown. Forced to live in substandard housing and unable to move because of the high cost of housing in San Francisco, low income residents face a number of health and safety issues in their homes. Poor ventilation, mold, insect and rodent infestation, unsanitary common areas, unfixed lights, broken banisters, and slippery hallways that result from unfixed leaks, all contribute to the health and safety hazards that tenants face. The health impacts of theseC conditions include: respiratory problems (including asthma and tuberculosis) due to indoor pollutants and poor ventilation; lead poisoning due to old peeling paint; food contamination due to rodent and bug infestation; accidental injuries due to dim lighting, ceiling leaks, and poor drainage.
In order to effectively identify and document the housing problems that residents face, CPA has done extensive research in the Chinese immigrant community. Residents involved in CPA's campaigns often become CJP Core Group members and are a central part of the research and campaign organizing team.
In the 2005 Chinatown tenant survey, CJP identified five key findings:
- Housing, health, and fire code violations are widespread in Chinatown housing. 87% of tenants surveyed reported one code violation; 62% reported more than one.
- Violations of the Health Code were the most widespread problems. Four of the five most reported problems are violations of the Health Code: insect and rodent infestation; unsanitary conditions; noise disturbances; and second hand smoke exposure. The fifth most frequently reported problem was lack of heat, a violation of the Housing Code.
- Very few tenants have complained to their landlord and even fewer have complained to a government code enforcement agency or a community organization. 28% of tenants reported that they have complained to their landlord about a problem. Only 11% of tenants reported that they have complained to a government agency or community organization.
- Tenants overwhelmingly support stronger government responsiveness to these housing problems through pro-active routine code enforcement inspections. 82% of tenants surveyed agreed with the statement that the government should conduct routine code enforcement inspections.
- Tenants expressed a strong interest in getting involved in a community-wide effort to improve housing conditions. 62% of tenants surveyed said that they wanted to get involved in a campaign to improve housing conditions.
Read the full 2005 Substandard Housing Report.
For more information about Housing Justice, please contact King Chan at 415.391.6986 x 301.