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.
The 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.