Formerly a hostel, this building is now home to veterans. Photo by Daniel Hirsch.

The sun is lower in the sky, which means it’s time for the Afternoon Report… 

For at least three veterans in the Mission, Veterans Day seemed to be going just like any other day. Tuesday afternoon Leroy Crofton, Paul Hodge, and their friend who went by just Ron were chatting outside the former Elements Hostel, now a veterans residency hotel. None of the three had any special plans to mark the day.

“I’ve been invited to a couple of barbeques but I’ve got other things to do,” said Crofton, who served in the Navy from 1983 to 1987. “But it’s always good to remember veterans—a lot of Americans take that for granted, especially in this neighborhood.”

On Mission Street between 21st and 22nd, the Elements Hostel opened as a home for veterans in February 2013. With a dispensary below and El Techo de Lolinda above, settling in hasn’t been easy for all the building’s new tenants.

Ron, who explained that he “blew stuff up” in the Army during two tours in Europe in the 1980s and mid 90s, said it’s been a challenge living under a popular rooftop restaurant, one that often has a line out the door.

“It’s open seven days a week and when they let their inhibitions down you hear rude comments,” said Ron. “They haven’t been through what we’ve been through and they have a lot of stereotypical comments about veterans.”

“I’m sure a lot of people in this neighborhood don’t know this apartment building is for veterans,” said Hodge. “Living here has definitely been an experience.”

“The food’s great,” said Crofton, another former Navy man who served in the 1970s. His plan’s for the day included trying to track down some free food—Ron offered him a list of places around the city offering free dining events for veterans. The three men seemed to agree San Francisco doesn’t have as many discounts or promotions for veterans that they’ve seen at businesses in other towns.

“In larger cities people are so consumed with their own problems, they’re not worried about the next man,” said Hodge.

Despite the complaints of the sometimes boisterous Lolinda crowd, the three residents of the Elements seemed to be more or less content living in the Mission. Even though it hasn’t been an easy transition moving to Mission Street, Hodge noted that “people tend to be pretty warm and accepting in the Mission.”

After a little bit more banter the three men dispersed, to return to their rooms, to run errands, to find some food and generally pass the day established to recognize their service.

This has been your Afternoon Report—a new series we’re trying out in which we offer a quickie post-meridian rundown of some minor developments in the always-happening streets of the Mission District. Got ideas or suggestions? Let us know what you think by sending an email to tips@missionlocal.com.

Daniel Hirsch

Daniel Hirsch is a freelance writer who has been living in the Mission since 2009. When he's not contributing to Mission Local, he's writing plays, working as an extra for HBO, and/or walking to the top...

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1 Comment

  1. I think you guys should go there during the hours when El Techo is booming upstairs, the crowds are lining up outside, and when people are constantly coming in and out of every door in the building that leads pretty much anywhere in the building, the restaurant next door and the other bar next door. Also, right next to El Techo is a Marijuana dispensary which also gets booming and you know it because you can smell it all around its vicinity.

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