By Rev. Norman Fong
The Presbyterian Church in Chinatown, San Francisco, helped my family when my family was evicted & facing homelessness when I was about 18 years old. The church worked together with the community to build the first redevelopment housing project in Chinatown. I decided then that I wanted to be a minister to help the poor and help people facing homelessness and in need of permanent affordable housing.
Currently, I work as the Executive Director of the Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC) which continues the housing work begun by our church and I get to see so many other families facing homelessness move into new homes. In San Francisco, housing is so expensive, people just need affordable rental housing as most can’t afford single family homes. In Chinatown, 40% of our housing are actually SROs (Single Room Occupancies) where people live in really small rooms without a private bathroom, kitchen or living room. In other words, imagine living in a closet-sized room.
Last month, I was filled with so much “Joy to the world” when Homeless families and SRO Families like Lidia Flores & her 2 children got to move into our newest affordable housing project – Broadway Sansome Apartments. (See Pictures). Lidia and her kids were living in an SRO in the Mission District of San Francisco where there is so much gentrification (displacement) going on. Her life story is heart-breaking as she tried to house her family alone… When I welcomed them into their new apartment the kids Fatima (12) and Christian (16) were dancing with joy!
Andrea and her family lived on the streets (homeless) spoke at our recent grand opening saying “Thank God, I have a second chance at life!” In another housing project CCDC built, we got to house “Homeless Veterans”… I am so proud of the work we do and proud of being a part of a larger movement to help the homeless and those in need of housing. I’d like to hear what other churches and communities are doing to bring more “Joy to the World”.