Andrea Mayfield, her husband and daughter for the past two and a half months have been living in a two bedroom apartment at Broadway and Sansome streets with a living room twice the size of their former unit at a single-room-occupancy hotel.
She recalled her experiences at the hotel, which included dealing with disruptive construction, verbal harassment by the management, bed bugs, cockroaches and mice.
At her fourth floor apartment on Wednesday, a joyful Mayfield, 53, explained why moving into the Broadway Sansome Apartments — named after the street intersections — was "a thousand percent better" than her previous address.
"I've got room. I've got a beautiful kitchen. We don't share a bathroom down the hall," said Mayfield, who works as a caregiver. "It's a mess because since I've been here, I've been cooking."
Mayfield's family is among dozens that in March moved into the 75-unit permanent supportive housing complex, which is holding its grand opening celebration today, on a site left vacant by the demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway.
Developed and operated by the nonprofit Chinatown Community Development Center, the building includes 18 units for formerly homeless families and 12 units for people displaced by construction around the new Central Subway station in the neighborhood.
The development center received more than 3,000 applications for 25 units it made available through a lottery system "which should give a judgment of how many people need affordable housing — the demand is so high," said Kyle Golden, an intensive case manager with the development center.
Tenants' rent is roughly one-third of their income with other determining factors such as government subsidy program enrollment, and ranges from $200 to $1,500 per month, Golden said.
Though some residents have a criminal background, drug abuse or domestic violence history, Golden called the apartments "a family building and it's a good neighborhood" between Chinatown and North Beach.
Mayfield, who moved into her apartment with the help of the Coalition on Homelessness, said she feels safe enough in the building to let her 11-year-old daughter, Rajita Gause, to do things she wouldn't allow at the hotel, like walking down the hallway by herself.
"There's a lot of kids in the building and I get my own room," Gause said. "I get to babysit sometimes and my favorite thing is I get to go out by myself."
Gause even walks across the street to take the bus to school, a Muni stop that Mayfield can see from their apartment window. Her new home, with hardwood floors and a marble-top kitchen, is better than she imagined while on the Section 8 housing waiting list since 2001. She worked her way up from the bottom of the list.
"At the hotel I just prayed. 'My daughter is getting bigger and even if it's one bedroom, give me a space so I can grow,'" Mayfield recalled. "Faith and patience paid off."