“The biggest problem in the neighborhood, after crack, is bed bugs.” Those are the words of Joseph Jones, a 70-year old resident of a Single Room Occupancy apartment (SRO) in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Jones is quoted this 2009 article from Race, Poverty and the Environment.
This week, Mission Loc@l reports that while a horrifying 73.4% of SRO residents in San Francisco’s Mission District have bed bugs, less than 12% surveyed have complained to the city about any SRO problem, apparently due to a lack of awareness that the option of calling 311 is there.
In order to counteract this lack of awareness, there’s now legislation under consideration to require SRO building landlords to display a poster alerting residents to the availability of the 311 hotline, and informing them of some reasons they might call it.
According to Mission Loc@l,
If the ordinance passes, the fine for failing to put up the poster would be $170, said William Strawn, communications manager at the Department of Building Inspection.
The poster reads: “SRO Tenants: This is your number! If your manager has not responded to your complaints about: bugs, rodents, fire hazards, second hand smoke in common areas, electrical or plumbing problems, no heat, unsanitary conditions, broken windows, or floors, or mold or mildew…Call 3-1-1.”
The poster is trilingual, in English, Chinese, and Spanish, and also contains contact information for the four San Francisco SRO Collaboratives, non-profit organizations which support SRO tenants.
Josh Vining, a community organizer with the Mission group, said that up until now, the service has been promoted only by word of mouth. Building inspections are less random and more complaint driven nowadays, he said, which makes the calls all the more important.
You hear that, San Francisco? Call 311 and use your complaint to drive some inspections.
In San Francisco, calls regarding bed bugs in apartments (SROs or otherwise) are routed to the Department of Environmental Health.
If you’re in an SRO and have bed bugs, please call 311.
If you’re renting in another type of multi-unit building in San Francisco, you can report bed bugs by calling Norma Castro at 415-252-3805.