Reeling from the Global Recession and the associated economic disasters that played out at the end of the last decade, America was beginning to look ahead to a new economic model, “the sharing economy.” Gig companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and TaskRabbit started their meteoric rise due to the high demand for flexible second jobs many needed to make ends meet after the economic losses of the previous years.
Many of those companies set up gleaming new headquarters in San Francisco. Tech companies and social media made San Francisco the “it” destination for young developers and tech engineers. Many people flocked to the City for high wages, high quality of life, and not to mention the best food scene in America. However, while the Financial District saw new high rises go up almost monthly, the need for social services for low-income and people experiencing homelessness was at an all-time high.
Homelessness continued on the national radar, exacerbated to shocking new levels by the Great Recession. The Tenderloin was no exception, and many in the local and state government had no idea how to deal with homelessness and its complex issues. The word gentrification became part of the local conversation. All of the housing was gone and what was left was too expensive or only an SRO room in the Tenderloin or SOMA.
Curry would be hard at work this decade trying to house people in an exhausting hunt for affordable housing; the PATH program social worker works exclusively with unhoused individuals to help them recover from homelessness with referrals for the services they need. Unfortunately, the need of the City was astronomical, and the housing supply dwindled daily, yet Curry Senior Center, using their whole person-oriented care, was able to keep many clients housed in affordable units. While they waited, Curry Senior Center provided a space for them to have meals in our Dining Room, log into their health portal to make and change medical appointments in our computer lab and join one of the many social groups the Center’s Community Programs provided.
Curry Senior Center was one of the first in the nation to implement a health and technology pilot program centered around older adults interested in learning how to use technology to access evidence-based health information. Together with a health coach to help guide them through a year’s long program, graduates of the program get to stay on for another year to help strengthen the skills they learned. Now in its fourth year, the program has been successfully delivered in English, Cantonese, and Russian.
Curry Senior Center is also looking ahead to the future. After the construction of a new nearby family housing project began, The Center was invited to occupy space in the building to offer services to the residents and community members. The building at 500 Turk Street will house our new Technology and Wellness Departments. This will give The Center the much-needed space to expand the programs that have made so much difference in our clients lives.