Julio Alvarado chose San Francisco’s Mission as his adopted home when he emigrated from Guatemala back in 2000. He felt immediately welcomed in his new community, so much so that when he married and had two kids, the family planted roots in the neighborhood.

That comforting sense of place became tenuous when Alvarado and his spouse, Jennifer, got an official-looking letter from their landlord.

“I wasn’t fully clear on what the letter meant, so I came to talk to Mission Promise Neighborhood Family Success Coach Celina Ramos-Castro. I knew it wasn’t good,” explains Alvarado (photo, right).

Turns out Alvarado’s 12-unit building on Cesar Chavez Street was going to be gutted, with his apartment being taken off the market. Translation: The family had eight months to leave their two-bedroom apartment and try to find another affordable housing rental in San Francisco. A daunting task.

Alvarado and his wife were extremely worried. This led to depression once they crunched the numbers, comparing what they could afford in San Francisco versus a move to the East Bay, the latter having the additional cost of transportation back and forth to their jobs in the city and, worse yet, meaning little time to spend with their kids. With all seeming lost, the Alvarados considered moving out of state.

Daughters 10-year-old Kimberly and 12-year-old Shirley were equally stressed, their grades dropping because of an uncertain future. The children were constantly questioning their parents about where they were all going to reside; they even said they would be willing to live in a one-room flat if it meant they could stay in their current schools and not have to leave their lifelong friends and neighborhood.

Ramos-Castro (photo, left) connected Alvarado to neighborhood partner Causa Justa :: Just Cause, who sent the family to a lawyer, availed the tenants of their rights and organized the residents.

Alvarado then came to MEDA, the lead agency of the Mission Promise Neighborhood. Housing Opportunities Coach Diana Mayorga worked with the family to explore below-market-rate (BMR) housing lotteries via the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD).

The first thing to do was to put in for a Certificate of Preference based on the Alvarado family’s impending Ellis Act eviction. This paperwork greatly increases the odds of winning the housing lottery.

Mayorga also made sure the family was rental ready, meaning they had a good credit score (must be better than 650), didn’t have any collections (must be under $500) and met BMR income guidelines for the developments to which they were applying (vary by property). When clients don’t meet these requirements, a MEDA coach works with them to develop a plan to become rental ready. The good news was that the Alvarados were in decent financial shape.

Then it was time to apply for lotteries. Mayorga helped the Alvarados fill out the paperwork and send in submissions to eight BMR apartment rental developments in San Francisco. Due to the Certificate of Preference, they won the lottery at four properties, choosing 200 Buchanan as their new home.

The Alvarados will be paying just $1,264 for a two-bedroom apartment — this in a city with a staggering $4,510 median price for that size unit, according to the latest data from real estate site Zumper.

“My family chose 200 Buchanan because it was brand new and in a safe, clean neighborhood. When we took a tour, my daughters were so happy. They couldn’t believe we were going to live there. They also knew we had found stable housing, they could stay at their schools and that we were still very close to the Mission,” states Alvarado.

The family’s relatively short move will take place this weekend.

Concludes Alvarado, “The stress is gone. I felt so supported by the community — and we never felt alone. My family is truly thankful to everyone who helped us get into our new home.”


About Mission Promise Neighborhood

The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

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2551-11152016_hop-homeowner-bridget-early-social-media_blogBridget Early has been a social worker at the Mission Promise Neighborhood’s Everett Middle School in San Francisco for the past nine years, following in the footsteps of her parents, who were both educators. Raised a few hours north in Chico, Early relished her childhood outings to the Bay Area with her folks. These trips solidified one idea: that she would one day live in San Francisco.

That dream became a reality 15 years ago.

Apartment living proves tough
Early met Bay Area native Kai King a decade ago. King also works in education, as a teacher at a private school in the city.

The couple lived in an apartment in the Richmond District, but were evicted via owner move-in a year and a half ago. At the time, Early was seven months pregnant with her second child. Talk about stress.

While a new apartment was eventually found, it was tiny place in the Inner Sunset for $600 a month more — cramping the family’s space and budget.

Hearing of Early’s plight, proponents of the November 2015 ballot’s Proposition A asked the politically savvy social worker to be a spokesperson on the need for passage of the $310 million bond for affordable housing in San Francisco. There was a commercial. A picture in a voter pamphlet.

The measure passed, with three-quarters of votes in the affirmative.

Despite relishing a citywide victory, life in that Inner Sunset flat remained tough. Kids like to jump. They drop toys. The neighbor below wasn’t amused.

“I was constantly telling my kids to stop being kids. That didn’t make sense,” explains Early.

The only solution was for Early and King to buy a single-family home.

Would that even be possible?

A numbers game
According to San Francisco Unified School District data, the 2016-2017 school year starting salary for teachers with a Bachelor’s degree was $52,657; for a teacher with 13 years of service, that jumps to $61,999. This translates to a San Francisco teacher’s salary being about half of the $103,000 a software engineer makes in the city, according to NerdWallet numbers.

CurbedSF calculations showcased that just 11 percent of San Francisco households can afford a home. That compares to 58 percent nationwide. The same story also indicated that $254,000 was the minimum qualifying household income needed to buy a home, based on median sale price in San Francisco.

Time for Early’s family to pack up and head out of town to find that home with the white picket fence, right? Not so fast.

The plan
Things sure changed with the help of Mission Promise Neighborhood lead agency MEDA’s free Housing Opportunities program, coupled with revised guidelines and qualifications from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD). This translated to the family of four recently moving into a three-bedroom, one-bath Outer Sunset home. In San Francisco. As two teachers.

When Early originally came to MEDA’s First-Time Homebuyers workshop two years ago, she found that she didn’t qualify for MOHCD programs, as her household income was actually a bit too high. When Early heard of the changes, she knew it was time for she and her husband to come back to MEDA to explore options once again. The couple received one-on-one coaching from Housing Opportunities Program Manager Juan Diego Castro.

“I knew the City had recently changed guidelines and increased available monies to assist homebuyers, as a way to get more San Franciscans into their first place. When I met with this Mission Promise Neighborhood family, I crunched the numbers and saw that we could now make this work,” explains Castro.

One big factor was the Downpayment Assistance Loan Program (DALP) increasing from $200,000 to $375,000 last July 5. Additionally, MOHCD raised household income ceilings to 175 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) to broaden eligibility to qualify for DALP. That meant a four-person household, like Early’s family, could earn up to $169,650 per year and still qualify for DALP assistance. That was up $40,400 from the prior cap.

A DALP loan must follow a first mortgage, which is required to be a 30-year, fixed-rate loan from a lender approved by the City. Also, a DALP loan must be paid back, along with part of the calculated appreciation value, whenever the home is sold.

The DALP changes meant there was now a workable plan in place.

The future
Early lights up every time she sees Desmond and Ellie frolicking in the yard of their new home, located near the ocean and Golden Gate Park.

“I feel like my kids are now free to play and be themselves. There will also be the freedom that comes with being raised in the liberal, accepting place that is San Francisco,” says Early of how her clan’s future has completely changed.

Early plans on cooking a Thanksgiving meal in her new home next week. Her family will be making that trip down from Chico, plus King’s mother will join them. There is an old-school kitchen in the 1940’s property, with two ovens, one above the other.

“I can’t wait to be in my own home for Thanksgiving. Those double ovens are primed for cooking a big meal. I am grateful … and settled,” concludes an elated Early.


About Mission Promise Neighborhood

The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

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June is HUD’s first-ever “National Healthy Homes Month,” but a dearth of affordable housing is translating to stress-related health issues being the norm for the historically underserved families of the Mission Promise Neighborhood. It’s definitely anxiety creating when you spend over 50 percent of your household income on an apartment in San Francisco, as is the case for the majority of these families.

Such health issues also adversely affect the well-being of these households’ children, putting them at risk of difficulty bonding, lower vocabulary skills, increased behavioral problems, and delays in school readiness and overall academic achievement.

The numbers tell the story
A recent Smart Asset analysis of the most-expensive rental markets in the nation showcased that a San Francisco household needs to make over $216K to not be deemed rent burdened.

This translates to the impossible task of a single mother needing to work eight-and-a-half full-time, minimum wage jobs just to pay such astronomical rent. This is an untenable — and unhealthy — situation for low-income Mission families seeking economic opportunity, as they live in perpetual fear of displacement from their neighborhood of choice if they lose their rent-controlled apartment through no-fault eviction.

If current trends continue, the number of Latinos living in the Mission will decline from the 60 percent of the Mission population they were in 2000 to just 31 percent in 2025, according to a San Francisco Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office October 2015 report.

Advocacy is needed. The community’s voice must be heard.

Genesis of Photo Voice project
To portray the health issues of the Mission housing crisis using an innovative form of advocacy, a Community Assessment for Affordable & Safe Housing (CASAH-SF) Photo Voice exhibit is in the works. CASAH-SF is preparing Mission Promise Neighborhood mothers with young children to record, via photography, their community’s concerns about the lack of affordable housing. The goal is to abet a City policy of housing first, thereby strengthening families. CASAH-SF team includes Shivaun Nestor, Dairo Romero, Ada Alvarado and Karen Cohn.

The goals are:

  1. Assess and diagnose families’ health and cognitive impacts with regard to the housing crisis.
  2. Identify community strengths in addressing the housing crisis.
  3. Recommend culturally relevant solutions for the housing crisis.

Leading the work
Spearheading this advocacy is Mission Promise Neighborhood Leadership Program Manager Laura Olivas (photo, center).

“The Photo Voice project is allowing pregnant women and mothers of young children to share how San Francisco’s housing crisis is affecting their health, plus the health and well-being of their children,” expounds Olivas. “The goal is to have six Photo Voice exhibits and then take these stories to San Francisco City Hall. Mission families need affordable and dignified housing in which to raise healthy children who can go to college and thrive.” The first such exhibit is slated for July 13.

As an education initiative, it is imperative that Mission Promise Neighborhood partner with families and create family-led spaces and platforms so that they can address the issues affecting the academic success of their children, like this housing crisis, and offer solutions.

Families must take charge of designing, researching, analyzing and evaluating the work. Disaggregating data, complemented by providing tools in Spanish, allows the very families being affected to engage in the conversation of the issues with negative implications for them and their community. These families can then propose solutions to the problems they face and, ultimately, mobilize around those solutions. This is vital, for when solutions are created by the community for the community, a sense of ownership is created — the core meaning of community engagement.

Explains Olivas of her role: “As a facilitator and curriculum developer, my job is to bring the tools and information families need to activate their inherent talents and advocacy skills. I do so in their native language, with respect and admiration. My background affords me the opportunity to connect with, understand, influence and authentically engage the families with whom the Mission Promise Neighborhood works.”

Such empathy for Mission families is what drives Olivas’ work. Born and raised in East Los Angeles, a Latino community that mirrors San Francisco’s Mission, Olivas was raised by a single mother who emigrated from Sinaloa, Mexico. The devoted parent worked tirelessly and selflessly to provide for her children and offer them a better life. The family was met with the challenge of maintaining affordable, stable housing, plus Olivas’ mother endeavored to create a college-going culture in the home.

Olivas now hears these same stories every day as she works to strengthen Mission Promise Neighborhood families. Photo Voice is a step in the right direction.

Zealously stated one Photo Voice project participant, “The power is in our hands.”

Words to live by.


About Mission Promise Neighborhood

The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.


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Last night, hundreds gathered in the Mission Promise Neighborhood for the second community meeting on the Mission Action Plan 2020 (MAP 2020). The theme was “A Plan for and Community Discussion on Affordability, ” with the venue Buena Vista Horace Mann School on 23rd Street. A resource fair on tenants’ rights — and other issues of community importance — was part of the event presented by the City and County of San Francisco, Calle 24, the Cultural Action NetworkDolores Street Community Services, MEDA, Pacific Felt Factory and other community-based organizations.

The goal of MAP 2020 is to retain the socioeconomic and cultural diversity of the Mission neighborhood by providing solutions to help protect tenants at risk of eviction, increase affordable housing, stem the loss of social and community services offered to low- to moderate-income residents, and support and retain local businesses, including employers providing working-class jobs. The aim is to keep 65 percent of the Mission as low- or middle-income residents.

City officials on hand included District 9 Supervisor David Campos, Director of Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services Joaquin Torres and Jeff Buckley, who is senior advisor to Mayor Lee.

To welcome the attendees, City Planning Director John Rahaim took to the mic, explaining how San Francisco is trying to address the needs of Mission residents by being part of these community meetings.

Rahaim was followed by Director Antonio Aguilera at San Francisco Day Labor Programand Women’s Collective, who explained the need for the community’s voice to be heard.

Next up was Chirag Bhakta, of the Mission SRO Collaborative, who shared data from a PowerPoint. Bhakta’s dialog was peppered with these sobering facts: there were 989 eviction notices in the Mission from 2009 to 2014, with 1,174 Latinos compelled to leave the neighborhood between 2010 to 2013. He then explained that these numbers are probably conservative, as eviction numbers do not showcase buyouts and that undocumented people may be fearful of being part of a census.

Urban Planner Claudia Flores, from the San Francisco Planning Department, then continued on with the presentation. Flores spoke of the major accomplishments in the Mission community since the initial meeting one year ago. In that time, a set of community organizations and the City have been working to research and discuss the ideas collected, and implementing some immediate, short-term solutions.

There have been major wins, including:

  • Pushing for neighborhood-preference legislation.
  • Increasing resources for legal representation for tenants.
  • Expediting 100 percent affordable sites (more than 300 units).
  • Acquiring an additional affordable site at 490 South Van Ness.
  • Dedicating funding of $50 million for the Mission from the Prop A housing bond that voters passed last November.
  • Implementing higher scrutiny of market-rate projects through interim controls.
  • Launching a nonprofit and creative-space displacement program, with $4.5 million in funding.
  • Augmenting resources for PDR enforcement and technical assistance.

“We’ve already had some major victories in the past year, but there is much more to do. Mission Promise Neighborhood community input is vital to this process, so I am excited to see so many partners, city officials and neighbors here tonight,” stated MEDA’s Director of Community Real Estate Karoleen Feng.

Topics for discussion tonight ranged from how to preserve existing rent-controlled housing/SROs and increase job opportunities to stemming the loss of community-serving businesses and building more 100 percent affordable-housing developments. Attendees broke into groups, in English and Spanish, to discuss these weighty topics. The clear topic of interest was affordable housing — and how it could be funded. Community Engagement Manager Dairo Romero of MEDA acted as a facilitator for the Spanish-speaking tables.

The community’s valuable input will be discussed by organizations and the City, collaboratively working on solutions based on the ideas collected.

The final meeting will be in June, with the date and time to be determined.


About Mission Promise Neighborhood
The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working, and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

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MPN Blog

A long-awaited vision became reality today during a groundbreaking ceremony for a new park at the corner of Folsom and 17th streets in the Mission. What is currently a large swath of concrete serving as a parking lot will now be transformed into a green space for the community, with a scheduled opening in 300 days.

A hundred students from nearby Cesar Chavez Elementary, a Mission Promise Neighborhood school, joined in the festivities.

This park was years in the making.

The history
For over a decade, the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition fought for this park, with People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights (PODER) spearheading the movement. MEDA has supported this advocacy, which was done as part of the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan of 1999.

As a grassroots movement, hundreds of neighbors have been participating in community design meetings and making their voices heard at City Hall. This included Araceli Lara (photo, seventh right) – a mother, grandmother and great grandmother – who was on hand at today’s dedication to be honored for her work to ensure the community looked out for its interests.

This met with success.

Construction of the park will be funded in part by a $3 million grant from the state of California. Features will include a playground, a fountain to honor Mission Creek (which is underneath the area) and a community garden.

Explained PODER’s Oscar Grande of the neighborhood’s work to create the park: “This was a community effort. Una corazón. One heart.”

The need
According to city-data.com 2013 stats, 64 percent of the Mission’s 72,218 denizens are renters, all sharing a crowded 2.3 square miles. Renters often do not have an outdoor space, meaning parks are vital for residents – especially children – to have a place to exercise and get some fresh air.

A 2014 Mission Promise Neighborhood Survey found that the percent of children who participate in at least one hour of physical activity each day was as follows:

  • Ages 0-5: 69 percent
  • Kindergarten to eighth grade: 62 percent
  • Ninth to 12th grade: 50 percent
  • Out of high school: 43 percent

To better these numbers,  the lack of open space in the neighborhood must be addressed. It is clear that having parks be easily accessible to Mission families is a major component of creating a culture of health in their urban environment.

There are also issues of mental health. Gregory Bratman, a Ph.D. student at Stanford, ran a study last year to see how nature can benefit mental health. The research team first gave healthy people from the Bay Area a questionnaire, coupled with a brain scan, designed to evaluate how susceptible they were to repetitive negative thoughts (a.k.a., brooding). Splitting the group in two, half took a 90-minute nature walk in the hills near Stanford’s campus, while the other group walked for the same amount of time down a busy commercial strip. Once back in the lab, the survey and brain scans were repeated, with those who walked in nature now less prone to persistent negative thoughts. For those who walked down the busy street, there was no perceptible change.

This study showcases the power of being in nature – and of having urban green spaces.

Anchoring an affordable-housing development
This new park at Folsom and 17th streets will also serve as an anchor for a new affordable-housing development in the Mission Promise Neighborhood.

In September 2015, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) awarded MEDA, the lead agency of the Mission Promise Neighborhood, and Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC) the right to co-develop, own and manage the neighboring site at 2060 Folsom Street.

The development will solidify a collaboration of longtime nonprofits: Larkin Street Youth Services running residential programs; Good Samaritan Family Resource Center offering preschool assistance; Jamestown Community Center running youth-development programs; MEDA’s Business Development team training prospective entrepreneurs; Mission Neighborhood Centers providing infant and toddler care; and PODER, continuing the fight for environmental rights. Jamestown Community Center and PODER will be housed on-site, relocating from their current spaces in the Mission.

“This park perfectly complements our 2060 Folsom affordable-housing development, offering recreation opportunities for Mission Promise Neighborhood families right outside their door, so that they can be healthy,” states MEDA Director of Community Real Estate Karoleen Feng. “This park is the result of year’s of community advocacy. By 2017, nobody will remember that this was once a place to park your car.”


About Mission Promise Neighborhood
The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working, and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

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Christopher Gil
Senior Content Marketing Manager
Mission Economic Development Agency
(415) 282-3334 ext. 152

Tracy Parent
Organizational Director
San Francisco Community Land Trust (SFCLT)
(415) 399-1490

Feb. 10, 2016

MEDA and SFCLT Save Five At-Risk Properties Using City’s Small Sites Program
Work with MOHCD to save longtime San Francisco tenants from Ellis Act evictions

San Francisco, Calif. — The Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) and the San Francisco Community Land Trust (SFCLT) today announced the successful purchase of five apartment buildings from the Iantorno family, thereby averting prospective speculation. The properties’ tenants include an artist, a war veteran, seniors and people of color — 13 low-income households at risk of Ellis Act evictions, some after decades of residency. The Iantorno family admirably agreed to pause the process and sell to nonprofits.

Sellers Sergio and Paul Iantorno explained the Small Sites sale as follows: “As longtime owners of residential property in the Mission District, we are very pleased to be able to share in the City’s vision of preserving and increasing its stock of affordable housing. As a result of guidance from and cooperation with the Mayor’s Office and Supervisor Jane Kim, the Iantorno family was able to transfer five properties to the Mayor’s Small Site Acquisition Program. These sites were initially subject to Ellis Act proceedings; however, over the last nine months, we were able to iron out the terms for this transaction to the benefit of the tenants (and future occupants) of these buildings. This was accomplished in no small part through the collaboration and guidance from the Mayor’s Office and the financing role of the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD). We thank buyers MEDA and SFCLT for their cooperation in achieving this mutually satisfactory outcome.”

Of the five rent-controlled properties, comprising 19 households total, MEDA purchased two properties in the Mission Promise Neighborhood footprint, 642 Guerrero (Mission/four units) and 380 San Jose (Mission/four units), while SFCLT acquired 70-72 Belcher (Duboce Triangle/five units), 1684-1688 Grove (NoPa/three units) and 1353-1357 Folsom (SoMa/three units).

All properties were purchased with financing from the City and County of San Francisco’s Small Sites program, administered via the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD). The program was launched as a pilot in June 2014, with just $3 million in funding. Since that time, the City has financed approximately $20 million toward saving small buildings.

Mission Promise Neighborhood Director of Community Real Estate Karoleen Feng (photo, foreground) notes, “We applaud the City of San Francisco and Mayor Lee for their commitment to taking the Small Sites program beyond its pilot stage, and for using the program as one valuable tool toward solving the displacement crisis in the Mission Promise Neighborhood footprint, and citywide.”

Tenants at most risk of eviction are those living in buildings of fewer than 20 units. These smaller properties are the majority of buildings in many low-income San Francisco communities. One example is the Mission District, particularly hard hit by the city’s housing crisis. Per MEDA’s report, “An Assessment of Housing and Housing Affordability in the Mission Promise Neighborhood,” of the Mission’s 24,924 housing units, 17,195 are one- to 19-unit buildings. That is 69 percent of all properties in the neighborhood – the type of units that have seen the highest eviction rates in the San Francisco.

A press conference is being held tomorrow at 11am at one such building in SoMa, 1353-1357 Folsom. Tenants in this three-unit property have been fighting for 10 years to stay in their homes, enlisting the aid of Tenderloin Housing Clinic. The struggle was ended when SFCLT successfully used the City’s Small Sites program to buy the building.

Joining MEDA and SFCLT in this celebration of affordable-housing preservation will be: Mayor Ed Lee (photo, front left); an Iantorno family representative; residents Rene Yanez and Teresa Dulls; South of Market Community Action Network’s Angelica Cabande; Randy Shaw from Tenderloin Housing ClinicMOHCD; Paulina Gonzalez from California Reinvestment CoalitionEnterprise Community Partners’ Justin Chen; Fernando Marti from Council of Community Housing Organizations; and Tommi Avicolli Mecca of Eviction Free San Francisco.

Concludes Organizational Director Tracy Parent of SFCLT, “The Community Land Trust is proud to have been able to create a win-win situation for the owner and tenants of these five apartment buildings, and we look forward to working with other apartment building owners who want to sell to the nonprofit community to stabilize existing residents and neighborhoods, while ensuring these homes remain permanently affordable for future households.”

See photos.

Mission Economic Development Agency

About Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA)
MEDA is the lead agency of the Mission Promise Neighborhood. Rooted in the Mission and focused on San Francisco, MEDA’s mission is to strengthen low- and moderate-income Latino families by promoting economic equity and social justice through asset building and community development. medasf.org


About San Francisco Community Land Trust (SFCLT)
SFCLT is a membership-based organization whose mission is to create permanently affordable, resident-controlled housing for low- to moderate-income people in San Francisco through community ownership of the land. The Land Trust acquires existing rental buildings in which lower income tenants are at risk of displacement or rent-controlled units are at risk of losing their affordability, and converts the building into a housing cooperative in which the tenants share ownership, while the Land Trust maintains ownership of the land. sfclt.org

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1988-01212016_CRE-Prop A Money Community Meeting Social Media_blog_640x295px

While trendy Valencia Street nightspots were filled as usual last Wednesday night with San Franciscans blowing off steam after work, a community that has been gaining steam for years met at Centro del Pueblo to engage in a historic discussion.

Thirteen community-based organizations – now under the name United to Save the Mission – collectively decided a plan of action with over a hundred residents. The topic: affordable housing. Specifically how the money from Prop A, passed last November with 75 percent of the vote, should be prioritized in the Mission.

The background
Prop A was the first housing bond passed in San Francisco since 1996. The total of this bond – put forth to address housing-affordability issues in an increasingly costly market – was set at $310 million.

Of that money, $50 million was earmarked for the Mission, the neighborhood hardest hit by the housing crisis. As proof of that statement, consider that a mere 7 percent of housing in the Mission’s pipeline is set as affordable, well under the City’s stated target of one-third.

report entitled “An Assessment of Housing and Housing Affordability in the Mission Promise Neighborhood” offered some specific numbers. This report estimated that 2,400 low- to moderate-income residents’ units be retained or replaced to maintain the Mission as a working-class neighborhood and Latino cultural hub.

The goal of last Wednesday’s meeting was to ensure that the community has a say in how this $50 million will be spent, as part of a plan to make the above happen.

The movement
This community meeting also represented three years of community advocacy and solidarity, ranging from street rallies and individual political actions to grassroots organizing and filling City Hall to the rafters to demand aggressive solutions.

MEDA, the lead agency of the Mission Promise Neighborhood, played an integral part by leading the creation of the Mission Action Plan 2020 (MAP 2020). A central piece of MAP 2020 was the implementation of an ongoing series of monthly meetings, since April 2015, that serves as a forum for City staff to directly request community input in funding priorities for affordable housing in the neighborhood.

The clear growth in the community’s power was then demonstrated last summer by the speed in which signatures were gathered for Prop I, the pause on luxury housing in the Mission District. Prop I made it to last November’s ballot, and while the measure garnered major support in the Mission, it unfortunately did not pass because the “Yes” side was vastly outspent by developers on the “No” side. Despite this loss, a movement was solidified.

This momentum of this movement led to a neighborhood having the impetus to put collective pressure on elected officials to allocate more funds to the Mission for affordable housing.

The displacement
The advent of this movement has been loss, real and anticipated, of a community no longer feeling they will be able to remain part of their neighborhood of choice. These feelings are based in fact, as the Mission has seen dire displacement of low-income and working-class residents (8,000 in the past decade, with the majority Latinos).

Those most vulnerable to housing instability are homeless individuals and families, very low-income people, those with children, transitional-aged youth (18– to 24-year-olds), seniors on a fixed income and persons living with disabilities. Many in attendance last night met these demographics. They came because years of action had led to their knowing that they will represented – that they now have a say in their future.

The options
There were four options presented to the community, with detailed explanations given for each and questions answered. This was done via small-group discussions, in Spanish and English.

Based on the group discussions, community members then cast votes for their priorities.

The community decided the priority should be to buy land and build now. The second choice was to buy land and build later. In third was the rehab of existing Single-Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels.

The next step
There is a follow-up community meeting next week to determine how to present last night’s prioritization to the powers that be at City Hall. United to Save the Mission will deliver this message on behalf of the community.

One resident of the Mission, Manuela from Alabama Street in the Mission Promise Neighborhood footprint, was compelled to come to the meeting out of fear of displacement. She explained, “I’ve seen too many of my neighbors have to move. They were all hardworking people who loved their neighborhood. They helped make the Mission what it is. I don’t want to be next.”

Manuela’s voice has been heard … as has a community’s.


About Mission Promise Neighborhood
The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working, and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

Read More


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