Bill Sorro Housing Program

Increasing Access to Affordable Housing

Welcome to the Bill Sorro Housing Program. BiSHoP is a nonprofit that is dedicated to ensuring vulnerable members of our community have access to affordable housing in San Francisco, and we also advocate for their right to keep it.
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Free Services We Provide

Languages:
English, Español, Français

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Apply For Affordable Housing In San Francisco

DAHLIA is San Francisco’s housing portal. Get the wheels in motion and apply today!

Weekly Drop-in Clinic For New Clients

Come talk to a housing case manager in person at our drop-in clinic held every Tuesday at 1009 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103 from 10-12 PM, 1:30-4 PM. The building is called Bill Sorro Community and we will be located in the community room. We do not own the building, we just happen to share the same name.

1009 Howard Street, San Francisco

 

Client Stories

 
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Carlos

After his release from incarceration, Carlos Flores did everything he could to turn his life around. First, he found temporary housing through a residential re-entry program for ex-offenders. Then, he started working two baking jobs to save money for his own place, and even started his own carpet cleaning business.

Carlos was eventually able to get a BMR apartment, but he ran into several issues in the process. One of them was that the BMR program requires married couples to declare joint income. Carlos and his wife have chosen not to live together, and so it did not make sense for Carlos to include his wife’s income for his housing. The other problem was that Carlos’ daughter was supposed to move in with him, and so he included her in his application. However, she ended up moving in with Carlos’ wife instead. Management at his new residential building first asked for a notarized letter from his wife explaining that the couple did not live together. Then they asked his daughter to fill out a form explaining that she was removing herself from the application.

“I was getting nowhere with the BMR process. By myself I was lost…They were requiring signatures. I didn’t understand why that was so important. BiSHoP gave me a helping hand to get past the bureaucratic procedures and red tape. It was really good advocacy.”

Last week Carlos finally was able to move into his own studio for the first time—an experience he describes as life-changing.

“I’ve never had my own spot. It’s given me confidence and a sense of pride—just a place to live in my own head with no one else to worry about.”



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Rosemary

When Rosemary and her senior parents first came to BiSHoP in 2017, they were renting a 2-bedroom in-law unit and did not have a formal lease agreement. Their landlord told them they needed to move out, but did not give a reason or definite timeline. In November 2018, they were told to move out by June 2019 because the landlord’s daughter would be moving into their unit. Rosemary then made an appointment at BiSHoP where she learned that the circumstances under which her landlord was seeking to evict them were illegal because: 1) verbal notice of eviction is not legal notice and 2) her landlord neglected to complete the required paperwork with the city that is mandated for Owner and Relative Move-In (OMI) evictions. BiSHoP also explained what her and her parents’ rights as tenants were, specifically, what she and her parents would be entitled to if the OMI were to be done legally (i.e., relocation money, ability to apply for a Displaced Tenant Housing Preference certificate, and special protections for senior tenants). To further consider what options Rosemary and her parents had in possible negotiations with their landlord, BiSHoP accompanied Rosemary to Asian Law Caucus’ housing legal clinic. In December, their landlord informed them their daughter was no longer moving in and that they could remain in their unit.

In February 2019, Rosemary and her parents placed well in the lottery for ChesHill at Mission. They received assistance from BiSHoP in completing the post-lottery documents and reviewing all required paperwork. In April 2019, they moved in to their brand new two-bedroom apartment. Regarding the assistance she and her parents received from BiSHoP, Rosemary stated:

“it was crucial to apply for affordable housing on time”

“I was lucky enough to be chosen [amongst] thousands of applicants”

“After so many attempts and so many applications which took about a year, we finally made it …BiSHoP helped us with all our applications. After we were chosen BiSHoP also supported us in filling out the forms correctly and exactly. Hence, we are forever grateful and appreciative to BiSHoP.”



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Rocio

When a fire destroyed their building in the Mission District in 2015, Rocio and her family had their lives turned upside down. They experienced a bout of homelessness for a while, and then they lived in temporary housing. Fortunately, they were eventually able to secure permanent housing through the Below Market Rate (BMR) rental program at Abaca in the Dogpatch for Rocio, her husband, and their three children. It was a brand new building with a gym and a lounge. They thought their problems were solved when they moved in. However, since BMR apartments lack just cause eviction protections, they found their housing threatened once again.

“I was waiting for a package, and I accidentally took a different one that wasn’t mine,” explains Rocio. “I only realized it later.”

Her honest mistake resulted in her receiving a 3-Day Notice to Quit, which is the first step when a landlord wants to evict a tenant.

“The management wouldn’t accept our rent,” she said.

That’s when she began looking for help and found BiSHoP.

“The staff there talked to the mayor’s office,” explains Rocio. “And the mayor’s office called the building management and explained that our mistake wasn’t so serious.”

Fortunately, the family was able to retain their housing, and have been able to resume making regular rent payments.


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Mousa

In 2017, Mousa came to BiSHoP seeking assistance in applying to affordable apartments because his studio in the Tenderloin was too small for his growing family.

“I lived at 285 Turk in a studio with three other family members in the Tenderloin for about a year, and it was known for its drug dealing. The rent was $2,250 including utilities. Then I moved to 337 Hyde St. and the rent was $1,800 for an old studio and the neighborhood was still the same.”

Mousa could not submit applications on his own because he primarily speaks Arabic, and he does not have a computer at home. BiSHoP was able to help Mousa and his family to apply for housing by submitting their applications.

By 2018, Mousa’s application was selected under Neighborhood Resident Housing Preference for 33 Tehama St. BiSHoP then assisted him in the post-application process by submitting all the necessary documents, and helped him communicate with the building management about any questions he had. BiSHoP continued to assist him in his move-in process by accompanying him and his family in selecting unit their unit, and explaining their lease agreement.

“Then in 2019, we moved to 33 Tehama and in this apartment I’m capable of saving a little money and investing into my family and honestly it’s more safe for my kids”

— Mousa on the impact of the affordable housing for him and his family.

History

BiSHoP is named in honor of Bill Sorro, a lifelong activist and advocate for human rights. As a fierce housing advocate, he was active in the struggle for the International Hotel (I-Hotel) which helped spark the housing movement in San Francisco in the late 1960s. Bill also worked with S.R.O. tenants and the homeless in the Mission, South of Market, and other neighborhoods.

Advocacy

Yes on Prop 10

To allow local governments to set rent control laws without state restrictions. It would restore the right of local communities to protect families from skyrocketing rents by repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. It did not pass.


Yes on Prop C

To increase funding for homeless resources by taxing SF's largest corporations a small additional tax averaging one-half of one percent on revenue greater than $50 million a year. It did pass.