SRO tenants aren’t given the same rights as other city residents when it come to their mail. Mail is not organized or delivered to individual mail boxes but instead left as a bundle at the hotel. Nancy Pelosi and USPS officials vow to finally do something about this injustice.
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MOST OF us are familiar with the U.S. Postal Service creed declaring that nothing – rain, hail, sleet nor snow – will stop the delivery of the mail. In a world of uncertainties, the private, secure mail service is one of the few constants in American life – unless you’re among the 30,000 or so people who live in single-room-occupancy hotels in San Francisco.
The SROs are mostly homes for low-income, elderly and disabled tenants who have yet to get the mail service the rest of us rely on.
They want their mail put in private, key-locked mailboxes – such as would be found in a typical apartment building. But the U.S. Postal Service, declaring the SROs to be “transitional housing,” has long refused. Instead, mail is dumped en masse at the front desk, leaving it for the hotel clerk to deliver to tenants.
Because the clerks are sometimes too overworked, distracted or disinclined to perform the task, critical pieces of mail, including Social Security and veteran’s benefit checks, sometimes get lost or wrongly delivered.
Out of frustration, some tenants end up renting private mailboxes. They see it as second-class treatment and more unfair redlining in poor neighborhoods. They’re right.
Now, after months of haggling, denials and a call for an official inquiry by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco, U.S. Postal Service customer-services manager Robert Reed is promising that mail will be put in private boxes at every SRO that has them – as soon as two weeks! It’s encouraging, but some tenants remember a similar pledge in 2000 that seems to have been abandoned. We will continue watching this issue to make sure the latest promise does not get lost in the mail.