Luz Bourne-RuizLuz Bourne-Ruiz is an energetic, single mother of 7-year-old Nathan, who attends Alvarado Elementary School in San Francisco. The immigrant from Mexico operates her own business, the New Alternatives Cafe, a cozy, neighborhood eatery serving breakfast and lunch on Guerrero near 28th. Featuring a convivial environment, there’s even a piano, guitar and congas for musically inclined customers to break out in spontaneous song after enjoying open-faced bagels and classic egg dishes.

Bourne-Ruiz originally came to MEDA, the lead agency of the Mission Promise Neighborhood, seeking homeownership opportunities. She took the First-Time Homebuyers workshop — held in English and Spanish on the second Saturday of each month — to create stable, long-term housing for her small family. It was discovered that Bourne-Ruiz’s self-employment income, after expenses and deductions on her tax returns, was too low to obtain a sustainable below-market-rate (BMR) mortgage loan.

Then Bourne-Ruiz’ worst fears were realized when her landlord stopped by last March with an ominous-looking letter: a 60-day eviction notice. When Bourne-Ruiz asked questions, the landlord stated coldly, “Everything you need to know is in the letter,” as he abruptly departed.

This impending owner move-in meant Bourne-Ruiz and her child would soon be forced out of her beloved home of over a decade, with her foisted into one of the most pricey apartment-rental markets in the nation. Bourne-Ruiz was distressed, to say the least.

That’s when Housing Opportunities Coach Diana Mayorga came into the picture, immediately ramping up efforts to get her client into a BMR rental. Bourne-Ruiz was already what MEDA deems rental ready, meaning she 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 she was 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.

Bourne-Ruiz simultaneously worked with Causa Justa :: Just Cause, located in MEDA’s Plaza Adelante neighborhood center, and successfully obtained an extension on her eviction timeframe. That community-based organization also helped her apply for the Displaced Tenant Housing Preference certificate through the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD). That preference greatly increases the odds of winning a BMR rental lottery.

Mayorga assisted with submitting applications for numerous BMR rental properties: Sweeney Apartments in neighboring Daly City; and 480 Potrero, 125 Mason, 200 Buchanan, 280 Brighton and 1401 Mission, all in San Francisco. While this process can seem daunting, especially with an imminent eviction hanging over your head, Mayorga counseled Bourne-Ruiz to keep the faith, be patient and remain diligent.

The good news? Bourne-Ruiz eventually won the lottery … on her sixth try.

At the end of December, she and her son moved into 1401 Mission, which is a brand-new property called Olume in the community straddling the Mission-SoMa border. Olume was awarded “Best New Development of 2016” by the San Francisco Apartment Association. There’s a rooftop deck with 360-degree views of San Francisco.  Fire pits to break the evening chill. Even an on-site pet park.

Interiors are pretty swank, with everything from sliding bedroom doors to quartz kitchen countertops to vessel sinks in the bathroom. There are 18 BMR rentals, with Bourne-Ruiz’s rent affordable at around $1,250 per month for her family’s two-bedroom unit.

“I am incredibly grateful for the City’s BMR rental program, as well as for the Mission Promise Neighborhood’s assistance in helping me apply for lotteries and coaching me about affordable-housing options. I am excited to be in my BMR apartment, which is safe, clean and new. My son loves it, too!” explains a grateful, and relieved, Bourne-Ruiz.

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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.

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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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2155-03292016_MPN-Janmichelle Bautista Social Media_blog_640x295px

“My teaching newcomers to San Francisco is like I’m coming home. I was in classes like these when I emigrated from the Philippines at age 5. It’s like I am helping myself,” explains Mission Promise Neighborhood teacher Jan Michelle Bautista of why she loves her job, and of the empathy she exhibits for her sixth- to eighth-grade science students at Everett Middle School.

Raised in the Outer Richmond, Jan wanted to stay in the city she loved, but that created a major challenge on a teacher’s salary. In the summer of 2014, the 20-something was enjoying her new career while living solo in a $2,300 per month one-bedroom flat located Downtown. She tried coming up with ways to lower her rent, which ate up way too much of her take-home pay. There seemed to be no options – not in San Francisco, anyway.

Few of Jan’s contemporaries inspired confidence around housing possibilities. It seemed as if only her engineer friends had been able to move out on their own, with most still being compelled to head outside of San Francisco. Everybody else was still living with their folks.

Then Jan heard from Mission Promise Neighborhood Family Success Coach Roberto Aparicio, who is based at Everett and acts as a connector to free services in the community, that MEDA’s Housing Opportunities team was coming to the school to lead a First-Time Homebuyers workshop to avail teachers of how they could potentially buy a place in San Francisco. MEDA is the lead agency of the Mission Promise Neighborhood.

At the workshop, housing counselor Juan Diego Castro spoke of San Francisco’s Downpayment Assistance Loan Program (DALP), which offers up to $200K, and the Teacher Next Door (TND) Program, with $20K toward a first-time home purchase. For the latter, a teacher signs an agreement to remain with SFUSD for a decade minimum; if they do so, there is no need to repay the money. If the teacher leaves sooner, full payback of $20K is required for years one through five, with prorated amounts of repayment starting year six. (The good news is that the TND program is being restarted in May 2016.)

Jan then took advantage of MEDA’s free one-on-one homeownership coaching. Castro also filled this role, going over Jan’s budget and then counseling her to move home for six months to save up for the rest of the needed downpayment. While Jan loves spending time with her extended family (really!), she knew it would be tough moving back to her childhood home after having been on her own. Jan had a flashback as she once again shared a room with siblings, plus the home was crowded with three generations of the Bautista clan. Despite these drawbacks, Jan bit the bullet, hoping it would truly be temporary.

It turns out Castro’s advice was pretty much spot on, as Jan closed on her new Nob Hill condo in February 2015, with a March move-in date. While Jan’s place is just 450 square feet and could use a kitchen remodel, it’s all hers.

There is another price to pay: it’s very tough to come up with the monthly mortgage payment on a teacher’s salary alone, so the industrious new homeowner has taken a second job working at a local supermarket. The days are long, but she can now stay in the city where she teaches.

That is not the case for most.

With real estate site Zillow today showing a median rent of $4,425 and home price of $1.12 million, a teacher’s salary just won’t cut it in San Francisco. Jan knows that many of the teachers at Everett now live in Oakland or other East Bay locales, meaning a long commute.

This can translate to not be able to attend student games, after-school events and educational meetings.

“I look forward to my Professional Learning Communities meetings, which are held after school hours. These meetings are where I share resources with other English Language Development teachers. Because I live in San Francisco, I can come to these meetings. Fellow teachers who live in the East Bay are forced to make a choice each day about getting home at a reasonable hour or staying for these kind of events. This is especially difficult for those with children,” states Jan.

Then there is keeping a connection to the community in which you teach — important to Jan, and other teachers like her. For instance, Jan takes the bus to work, sometimes seeing parents and students also on the way to Everett. “I ask them if homework was done last night,” Jan kids. She also can relate to her students’ daily life experiences, heading to the same eateries, parks and museums.

Jan knows that some dual-household-income Mission Promise Neighborhood teachers do not qualify for DALP or TND, as they make too much money to qualify, but do not earn enough to compete in San Francisco’s pricey market. This often means moving from the city.

“SFUSD puts plenty of money into training teachers, but if they leave the city, that knowledge is lost. If teachers don’t leave because they went back to grad school, then they most likely had to move away because they were evicted or wanted to buy a place and could do so only elsewhere. That’s quite the loss for San Francisco,” concludes Jan, grateful to the Mission Promise Neighborhood for helping her be one of the enviable few who can actually live where they teach.

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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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEverett Middle School combined empathy with education last night as underresourced, predominately Latino families from the Mission came together to share their concerns and traumas over San Francisco’s continuing housing crisis.

Held by the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN), this was the second such event of 2014. The first “Housing Town Hall” was held at Bryant Elementary School in March, with families sharing their traumas and asking for solutions.

The ongoing challenges faced by low-income families Mission families were corroborated by a federally mandated MPN community survey that was done in spring. This survey showcased the fact that 95 percent of MPN families are renters versus 64 percent citywide, based on a San Francisco Planning Department study from 2012. Also, according to the MPN survey, 85 percent of Mission families are spending over 50% of their income on rent.

Last night’s “Housing Town Hall” built knowledge of housing options for families and engaged them in solutions.

The evening’s agenda commenced with a warm welcome from Everett Middle School Principal Lena VanHaren.

Next were inspiring words from neighborhood activist Oscar Grande of People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights (PODER). Grande asked the crowd such questions as “Who is living with relatives?” and “Who has fear of being evicted?,” with hands rising in the audience.

There was then a panel featuring: David Campos, District 9 Supervisor; Ken Tray, United Educators of San Francisco; Kevin Truitt, Associate Superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District; and Scott Wiener, District 8 Supervisor. Each got up to address the crowd.

Tray explained that real estate company Redfin has found that no teacher in San Francisco can afford to live in the city, a startling fact.

Finally, there were a trio of bilingual sessions—facilitated by Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Hamilton Family Center and the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA)—on the subjects of housing rights, housing options and prospective direct action.

Fear was palpable. Anxiety was high.

MEDA Director of Community Real Estate Karoleen Feng explains the need for this second event as follows: “ We heard myriad heartbreaking stories around housing at the first town hall. Families expressed stress over trying to stay in their neighborhood of choice. This stress affects their children’s academic performance. This second town hall was held as part of a movement to bring answers to families—around their rights, resources and ways to be involved in solutions for their housing crisis.”

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Homeless BlogBeing a family success coach for the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) team is an exciting, impactful job, with its goal of guiding kids on a cradle-to-college-to-career continuum. This federal program is based on the successful Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, now replicated by MEDA and 26 community partners at a quartet of poor-performing schools in San Francisco’s Mission District.

The job does come with myriad challenges, including families in financial and emotional distress, making it difficult for a child to study and achieve.

One of the main causes of such distress is the ongoing San Francisco housing crunch, especially evidenced in the increasingly popular Mission District.

How can a student stay focused and successfully remain on the road to a bright future when their family’s living situation is unstable?

By the numbers
In the worst case scenario, a student’s family is in transitional housing. A recent study by the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) discovered a shocking statistic: 141 MPN students in the four Mission District schools are in such transitional housing, with 118 of those students Latino. This unsettling statistic was determined by the city’s Families & Youth in Transition (FYIT) program.

Transitional housing was broken down into the following categories, by number of students:
Temporarily doubled up: 89
Temporary shelters: 36
Hotels/motels: 12
Temporarily unsheltered: 1
Temporarily doubled up (pre-natal): 1
Other: 2

These statistics showcase the depth of the housing issue in San Francisco.

Family issues
Danielle Winford, a native San Franciscan who grew up in the Ingleside neighborhood, deals every day with the issue of schoolchildren in transition. As the SFUSD FYIT District Coordinator, it is her job to help students through this difficult time. Winford has actually heard an anecdote of eight families living in one unit, with kids sleeping in the hallway.

Thanks to the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act, passed in 1987, every student has the right to stay in their school of origin.

McKinney-Vento Act gives transition students the right to:

  • Remain in the same school even if their family moves
  • Enroll in a new school without such typically required records as proof of residency, immunizations, school records or other documents
  • Receive transportation to school
  • Obtain site-based services at school
  • Challenge decisions made by the schools and districts

It is Winford’s job to ensure that the McKinney-Vento Assistance Act is met, even if a child needs to commute a long distance. “After housing, the main request I get from families is for transportation. I work to get students free MUNI Fast Passes or BART passes. Whatever it takes to ensure they have a way to get to school,” explains Winford.

A main element of Winford’s job is coordination of services. She works closely with school nurses and social workers to get students–and their families–the services they need to ensure the youngster’s success, despite their being in transition with regard to housing.

“I started as a teacher and later got my Masters in Social Work. The truth is that you can’t be a teacher without being a social worker,” states Winford.

Those skills come in handy as Winford deals with the ongoing challenges of keeping students in their school of choice . . . and on the road to success.

Mission Promise Neighborhood family in crisis
Hard-working single mother Manuela E. has sole onus for the care of her 10- and 13-year-old daughters. The eldest, Sophia, attends Everett Middle School, part of the Mission Promise Neighborhood.

4. Roberto AparicioMPN Family Success Coach Roberto Aparicio has been guiding the Mission District family through a difficult time, as they are being evicted from their residence of seven years on Capp and 20th streets, with all residents of the property being displaced.

Manuela’s friends and family are surprised that this is happening to someone like her–a community activist as a member of the collectiva. She prides herself on being involved and always knowing her rights.

It is happening. By September 1st, the family will be forced out of their home, having to temporarily double up with Manuela’s sister in her apartment across town in the Presidio. Manuela and her two children are about to become a statistic.

This situation has also created the issue of a total loss of household income, as Manuela has been running a permitted daycare center in her residence (she is legally allowed to care for up to eight children.) These clients will not follow Manuela to another part of town. Even if she can somehow find an apartment rental in the next six weeks, new permits and licensing will need to be garnered, adding to an already taxing situation.

And then there is Sophia, removed from the comfort of home, away from her friends, school and community.

Interestingly, Aparicio did not hear of this story until the eviction process had begun. The reason was that Sophia has somehow managed to do well in school through this family crisis. Her grades are good. Her behavior is exemplary. She is off the radar.

Yet when Sophia comes home, the teenager is prone to bouts of depression, having internalized the stress of losing the place she calls home.

Aparicio became availed of this family’s story when he attended an SFUSD training in March—a training geared around youths who were in transitional housing. Sophia’s English teacher had read an essay the youngster wrote about her family’s prospective eviction and asked if she would be willing to read it at this meeting. Sophia agreed.

As her words of despair and frustration spilled forth, tears rolled down Sophia’s face. She wasn’t the only one. 

Service integration
Aparicio has since been of service to the family in their desperate attempt to find  affordable housing in a city of ever-increasing rents.

To better her credit score—essential for landlords to even think about renting to you–Aparicio steered Manuela back to MEDA Financial Capability Coach M. Teresa Garcia. Manuela first met Garcia back in 2005 when the coach helped her get a city grant to buy toys and equipment for her new childcare business.

This time, Garcia’s strategy was to set Manuela up with a Secured Credit Card—a strategy that worked, as that credit score rose to 649 after only three months. This reduced Manuela’s stress, as she thought she could now find a new rental.

This has yet to happen.

On Garcia’s counsel, Manuela tried becoming part of a rental co-op called Baker’s Dozen, located in the city’s Western Addition neighborhood. Manuela was not picked. Garcia conjectures this is because it would be three persons in one room.

Then Manuela tried another co-op, Parker Street Cooperative, despite it being across the Bay in Berkeley. Once again, she was turned down.

Manuela searches for a new home for her family every day, but hope is slipping away as each week passes. Daughter Sophia fears an uncertain future.

Hoping for the best; preparing for the worst
Family Success Coach Aparicio explains his task as follows: “My job is to connect the dots so that MPN families know all of the appropriate services out there. With so many families having housing issues, family success coaches have realized the need for a partner that offers shelter space so that we can get our families immediately placed. That is the reality of the situation for far too many MPN families today. Manuela puts a face on a tragic problem.”

Aparicio is now researching family shelters with the best reputation in San Francisco, as it appears Manuela’s story may not end well.

As Aparicio does so, he fears another call from an MPN family finding themselves in a housing crisis.

 

 

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Mission Town Hall Meeting

MEDA facilitates school meeting about housing crisis and families under stress

On March 19th, Bryant Elementary in the Mission District played host to an insightful Housing Town Hall to bring the community together to express their concerns about the rising cost of San Francisco apartments. Turnout exceeded expectations—emblematic of the breadth of the issues facing lower-income families in the Mission.

MEDA is 100% committed to pushing forward this much-needed dialogue about housing issues in the Mission . . . and last night was a step in the right direction. Conversations being had in kitchens across the Mission were brought into the public realm, with empathy now the common ingredient. Kudos to Claudia DeLarios Moran, San Francisco Unified School District Family Liaison, and other partners who worked collaboratively to make this meaningful event a reality.

To get the conversation flowing, MEDA staff initially facilitated English- and Spanish-speaking groups of about six residents each. The consensus? Attendees lamented that they are caught in a Catch-22: move out of their long-time neighborhood of choice, or San Francisco altogether, because of escalating rents versus working two or more jobs just to pay shelter costs in the Mission, leading to less time with their children. Either scenario causes stress, taking the family unit on a downward spiral, with an outcome of psychological, emotional, physical and fiscal issues. Dr. Zea Malawa of Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ Center for Youth Wellness, located in the nearby Bayview, gave a presentation on this dire matter.

Hydra Mendoza, Education AdvisorThe event emcee was Hydra Mendoza, Education Advisor at City and County of San Francisco, with a translator on hand. The town hall panel comprised city officials Jeff Buckley, who is Senior Advisor to Mayor Lee, Supervisor David Campos and Supervisor Malia Cohen; complementing that trio were local activists Oscar Grande of People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights (PODER) and Lucia Kimble from Causa Justa :: Just Cause. The panel answered questions from residents and vowed to transfer the latter’s concerns into action.

MEDA plays its part via the Mission Promise Neighborhood, an evidence-based continuum of services that focuses on lower-income Latino students and their families at Bryant Elementary, César Chávez Elementary, Everett Middle School and O’Connell High School. Family Success Coaches work to keep children and their families on the path to success.

The poignancy of the town hall was summed up by MEDA’s Director of Community Real Estate, Karoleen Feng: “We were keyed up to see so many families from the Mission schools both come and find solutions to their housing problems and share their challenges with city and school district leaders. We heard that our families also came away realizing they were not alone in their problems or in wanting to find solutions, and MEDA will continue working with them to address the impacts on families and their children.”

The dedicated MEDA team promises to keep pushing the dialogue. MEDA is all about solutions.

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Contact
We’d love to hear from you!

Email
info@missionpromise.org
 
Phone
(866) 379-7758
 
Address
2301 Mission Street
Suite 303
San Francisco, CA 94110