Study says immigrants feel welcome in San Francisco, but housing, jobs tough to find 

click to enlarge David Campos
  • Jessica Kwong/The S.F. Examiner
  • David Campos calls for support for his resolution to designate April as Immigrant Family Month.

Immigrants find San Francisco welcoming but on the other hand, lacking in housing, employment and health care services, according to a report released Tuesday, The City's eighth annual Immigrant Family Day.

The San Francisco Immigrant Integration Project is the first of its kind in documenting the experiences of The City's immigrant community, according to Corey Cook, director of the University of San Francisco Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good.

While 63 percent of respondents said they came to the United States for "a better life" and felt adjusted to the culture here, 58 percent indicated they have difficulty accessing below-market-rate housing services in this housing climate. In addition, 45 percent said they are out of work or do not have job training, employment assistance or worker rights assistance.

The report confirmed what immigrants rights advocates already believed was the case in San Francisco, said Annette Wong, program coordinator for the network.

"Every day, people come into our doors for services but often times we find out they are being threatened with eviction or going through a domestic violence at home," she said. "We see need for more services for the immigrant network."

One finding came as good news to the group -- that 70 percent of immigrants said they have been able to access health care services. However, they also said there continues to be confusion about eligibility for such programs, particularly due to language barriers.

"Because they are limited English speakers, they are often stuck in low wage jobs," added Un Un Cheng, an outreach specialist with Chinese for Affirmative Action.

Among participants, 60 percent said they wish civic participation and being able to vote was part of their lives. About 20 percent indicated they are undocumented and 7 percent declined to share their immigration status.

More than 600 San Francisco immigrants were surveyed in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Arabic, Tigrinya and English as part of the three-year, community-led research effort conducted by the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network. Another 200 participated in one-on-one interviews or focus groups.

"It was based on this relationships and not a massive phone survey," Wong said.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday also unanimously adopted a resolution introduced by Supervisor David Campos, an immigrant from Guatemala, designating April as Immigrant Family Month in San Francisco.

"We are proud to be a sanctuary city," Campos said at a press conference outside City Hall. "We have always been and will always be pro-immigrant in San Francisco."

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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