The community center is 7,000 square feet on the ground floor and basement of the Bayanihan House located at the corner of 6th and Mission Streets in San Francisco's South of Market (SOMA). The Bayanihan House is the site of the former Delta Hotel, a residential hotel that was owned by Dr. Mario Borja, a Filipino.
In the 1970's, Dr. Borja purchased the Delta Hotel hoping that it may one day serve the Filipino population living in SOMA. By 1994, Dr. Borja took over the management of the hotel and provided affordable housing to low-income tenants, including the growing population of Filipino American WWII veterans. On the ground floor, the veterans and others in the community began utilizing the space as their community center. By 1997, Dr. Borja formed a non-profit organization, The Filipino American Development Foundation to rehabilitate and manage the space for a Filipino community center. But later that same year, a tragic fire destroyed the hotel and left over 200 residents homeless.
In 1999, Borja sold the hotel to an affordable housing developer, Tenant and Owners Development Corporation (TODCO). But the Filipino owner required specific conditions for the sale to TODCO to benefit the community. First, TODCO had to provide affordable housing to all displaced tenants, including the more than 100 elderly Filipino American WWII veterans. Second, the building would be renamed "Bayanihan House", a Filipino cultural value meaning mutual support and mutual caring. Third, TODCO would extend a 20-year lease to the Filipino American Development Foundation for $1/year for over 7,000 square feet of ground floor and basement space to house the Bayanihan Community Center.
It is fitting to have a Filipino Community Center in SOMA. This neighborhood has historically been the first home to generations of Filipino immigrants dating back to the early 1900's. Today, SOMA has become a rapidly changing neighborhood with the emergence of the Convention Center and the growing number of high-rise hotels to support the anticipated influx of tourists and convention attendees. This growth and development has greatly impacted the Filipinos living in the neighborhood. Many have been displaced, but Filipinos who immigrated years ago and called SOMA home find their way back to remember their struggles as they see the new immigrants experience similar challenges.
The Filipino community of immigrant families and seniors live in apartments in the alleys and in the residential hotels. They work in the nearby office buildings and in the new high-rise hotels. St. Patrick's and St. Boniface are the churches where they worship. Nearby streets are even named after Filipino heroes and murals depicting Philippine history and community decorate the SOMA neighborhood walls. The Bayanihan Center will keep the Bayanihan spirit alive in the hearts and minds of the community.