In 1999, Andy Choy left his home in Guangzhou City, China, and emigrated to San Francisco in search of a new life for his family.
“There’s freedom here,” he says of the United States. “You can watch the news, you can say what you want to say.”
In the years since he arrived, Andy, 41, has worked hard to get a toehold in one of the country’s most expensive cities. He’s held a series of jobs to support his wife and 15-year-old daughter; now he’s part of the room service team at a luxury hotel downtown.
But finding the right place to live hasn’t always been easy. The family moved to at least five different locations before settling into an affordably priced two-bedroom unit at the Fell Street Apartments in July 2012. Most recently, they lived on the outskirts of San Francisco in an area that was not convenient to public transportation.
Now Andy bikes just a mile to work from Fell Street. He and his wife walk to a nearby grocery store to stock up on apples, strawberries, grapes, avocados and yogurt for breakfast. He loves to cook and sometimes buys fresh seafood to prepare with ginger and onions. When he has time off, he likes to watch the many parades and celebrations that wend through the streets of San Francisco. He appreciates the joys of living in the heart of the city – an option he knows is increasingly rare for families like his.
Andy also knows that living at Fell Street is not the typical renter’s experience. Before, if Andy asked a landlord to repair something, he’d have to wait for weeks or months. At Fell Street, a broken light bulb or door is quickly fixed. “They take care of the building, they take care of the people,” he says of the property’s management.
One day, Andy hopes, he will become a homebuyer, perhaps with a little help from friends and the assistance of an affordable housing program. He knows it won’t be easy, but Andy is accustomed to hard work. “You need to make some chance for yourself,” he says.Back to all stories