The Raman re-opens after a 2001 fire, as a senior focused single-room occupancy hotel.
One or more scans of original printed documents are included here. To read the text of these documents, please activate the Read the Text tab.
The Key to a New Life Raman Hotel
Gives Seniors a Safe Place to Call Their Own
“I like this place,” said Larry Woodard, a new resident of the Raman Hotel. “It’s nice and quiet. Everything has been beautiful.” At 61 years old, Woodard had been living in a homeless shelter for the past year. Born in Florida, he worked as a movie projectionist for 20 years in cities across Georgia, Louisiana and Texas before settling in San Francisco. Here he supported himself with houseman and dishwashing jobs at major hotels before financial problems forced him out of his studio apartment. “You go up and you go down and you go back up,” he said. “It’s all part of life.”
When he arrived a few weeks ago, Woodard was one of the first people to move into the Raman Hotel since it was gutted by fire in 2001. Located at 1011 Howard Street at Sixth Street, the Raman was rebuilt by its private owner with supportive housing for seniors in mind. It is now being leased by the nonprofit Tenderloin Housing Clinic through the Human Services Agency master lease program. It is the first building for seniors to be added to the HSA Housing First portfolio, and is the newest senior-focused single-room occupancy hotel in the city.
The extensive renovations included the addition of another floor of units on the top, increasing the building’s height by one story and the number of units to 85. A portion of the ground-floor retail space has also been converted into common spaces for tenants, meeting rooms, a kitchen, and staff offices. The reconfiguration and a new elevator mean that there are no longer any access barriers for persons with mobility problems.
Per city regulation, Tenderloin Housing Clinic staff searched for residents who lived at the Raman at the time of the fire to offer them the first opportunity to move back. All other units are reserved for low-income seniors currently residing in shelters. “Our focus is on getting homeless seniors out of shelters,” said Scott Walton, HSA Supportive Housing Program Manager. “We’ve been conducting outreach to individuals in shelters based on age, starting with the oldest first. We’re using our shelter database system and connecting with the case managers who work with homeless seniors to reach as many people as possible.” Funding for the building comes from the city’s general fund; senior residents will pay $470 per month in rent, and are not required to be on any specific aid program to become tenants. Tenants who are on County Adult Assistance Programs will be subsidized in the model of Care Not Cash.
Tenderloin Housing Clinic staff will provide on-site support services to help residents stabilize their housing and live independently as long as possible. Case Manager Carol Kirschman will connect residents to outside programs and coordinate services in the hotel. “I’m here to support the tenants in staying housed,” she said. “I’ll connect them to medical services, advocate for them, talk about money management and Representative Payee services, and coordinate support and social Howard Street groups.” Kirschman is already helping residents with referrals to nonprofit agencies that provide free linens, bedding, and small appliances such as televisions, microwaves and mini refrigerators.
“All our services are voluntary,” said Kirschman. “I contact each resident at least three times in their first six weeks here so they know I’m available for them. I just want them to know about the services that they might not otherwise hear about, and to know I’m here to advocate for them and make sure they get what they need. I’m hoping people will realize that they can stay housed, and that people do care about them and want them to succeed and be happy.”
Outside agencies will bring services on site as well over the coming months. Staff already have made arrangements with In-Home Supportive Services so that Kirschman can apply directly for services on the clients’ behalf as needed. And the Human Services Agency’s roving behavioral health team, which will visit the Raman as needed, will soon include a member who specializes in working with the elderly. As the building moves towards full occupancy, staff are proposing activities such as exercise classes, movie nights, women’s groups, presentations on health and nutrition — the final choices will be dictated by residents’ needs and requests. In the meantime, workers are putting the final touches on the building, finishing the common room and setting up a gazebo on the roof, which will one day boast a roof garden and be the site of social events.
The Raman’s 11-member staff, all from Tenderloin Housing Clinic, is led by Manager Wendy Thompson. After serving for three years as a case manager, where she used her training in issues such as mental illness, dementia, and substance abuse, this is Thompson’s first position as a property manager. Her personal experience is a help to her in her new job as well. “I went through a period of homelessness when I lost my job and apartment in the same month,” she said. “My daughter and I lived in a shelter and an SRO hotel before finding subsidized housing. When you walk through something like that and get to the other side, you’re a lot more compassionate and also more realistic about what happens to people on the streets.”
Thompson said she was proud to be managing the Raman and working with seniors. “We’re contributing to a sense of community in the neighborhood and a sense of belonging for our residents,” she said. “On move-in day, I get kind of weepy. The seniors come in and pick out a room and when I hand them the key it’s so emotional. I’ve received kisses and hugs and bows. People tell me ‘I’m finally home, after all this time I’m home and safe.’ I go home thinking this must be the best job in the world. I can feel totally satisfied that I’m doing a good thing.”