City, tenant advocates appeal court decision on USPS mail delivery to SROs

The city of San Francisco and local tenant advocates on Tuesday appealed a change in U.S. Postal Service policy that they say discriminates against some low-income populations by withholding certain mail delivery services.

The lawsuit argues that a cost-cutting measure imposed in 2008 by San Francisco Postmaster Noemi Luna violates constitutional guarantees of equal treatment for residents of single-room occupancy hotels, more commonly referred to as SROs.

In October 2011, a court ruled in favor of the USPS policy. The latest challenge — filed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, the Central City SRO Collaborative, the San Francisco Tenants Union and the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco — attempts to reverse the 2011 summary judgment so the case can proceed to trial.

Since the change took effect, nearly two-thirds of The City’s 30,000 SRO residents have seen their mail dropped at a bulk delivery point rather than sorted into individual mailboxes, as is the case in most apartment buildings. Lawyers have argued that the new system is unfair and not secure.

Fourteen percent of residents surveyed by the Human Services Agency said critical benefits checks or notices have gotten lost since the switch. Unreliable mail delivery has exacerbated difficulties already faced by some of San Francisco’s most disadvantaged residents, attorneys said.

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