It’s Her Turn: Senior Receives Help After Years of Giving to Others

For years, Elaine “Mother” Jones advocated for the rights of seniors in San Francisco to have better lives and improved housing conditions. She often took her advocacy to the streets, holding rallies alongside former SF supervisor Jane Kim who represented the district in which Jones lived—the Tenderloin, arguably San Francisco’s most economically challenged and trouble-ridden neighborhood. Among Jones’ many contributions, she advocated for seniors to have access to nutritious meals and grocery items, green open space, affordable services, public and indoor safety, plus she helped start a senior support group for her fellow tenants. In 2015, Kim awarded Jones a Certificate of Honor from the Board of Supervisors for her extensive work in affordable housing advocacy and contributions to the city.

Back then, Jones resided in a single-room-occupancy (SRO) hotel in the Tenderloin district, which was commonplace for many of the district’s residents. Even though Jones had established herself as an outspoken and lovingly persistent tenant organizer, her life was far from rosy. Like so many of her neighbors, Jones endured years of drug abuse, and survived several suicide attempts. Yet, even though life in a SRO was far from idyllic, it was home. 

Several months ago, things changed. Jones was being harassed and threatened, by one of the fellow tenants in the SRO hotel in which she lived. It was a breaking point for her, prompting her to take legal action and finally seek a new home for herself. At 68, and now a senior herself, it was now her turn to have a better life of her own.

Jones landed at The Coronet, a mixed-use senior living facility managed by Bridge Housing located in the same building on Geary Street as Institute on Aging’s (IOA) headquarters. As part of that process, Jones enrolled in On Lok’s PACE program at IOA, a full scale program for seniors ranging from medical and dental services to transportation and meals.

It’s been a game changer for Jones. Not only is her current living situation much safer, she has also received much-needed therapy on her knees, gone through a colonoscopy procedure, had a pesky hernia fixed and had her glasses repaired. “They’ve even addressed the callouses on my feet,” she says with absolute glee in her voice.

Jones has given a lot to the city in which she loves, but the city wasn’t always as kind in return. Jones feels the love at last. “I’m tickled pink with how my life is going now,” she says. “It’s keeping me going and letting me give back to other seniors in turn.”

While Bridge Housing and Institute on Aging worked together to develop The Coronet, IOA does not offer senior housing services as part of its portfolio.

For more information about IOA services, please contact a member of our Connect team, by calling 415.750.4111.

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Institute on Aging

Committed to offering thoughtful discussions and resources to older adults, their families, and their caregivers.

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