MEDA and Mission Promise Neighborhood are fulfilling our vision by keeping families in San Francisco via connections to viable options for stable and affordable housing. We are solving the affordable-housing crisis through collective solutions. In addition to connecting families to eviction-protection services and the below-market-rate (BMR) apartment lottery, Mission Promise Neighborhood Family Success Coaches connect families to affordable housing that MEDA is purchasing through the City of San Francisco’s innovative Small Sites Program. To date, MEDA has purchased 20 buildings comprising 128 homes and 16 commercial spaces — with all units kept affordable. Nearly 30 Mission Promise Neighborhood families have been housed as part of this program.
Due to the skyrocketing cost of housing and no new affordable housing having been built, the Mission District saw 8,000 Latinos displaced since the year 2000 — over 25 percent of this community. Since Mission Promise Neighborhood began working in schools, the student mobility rate has actually gone down, from 13.9 percent in 2012 to 7.9 percent in 2017. Student mobility reflects when students unexpectedly change schools, often as a result of eviction or other changes in housing. Stability is important to academic performance, adolescent development, and students’ relationships with peers and teachers. In addition to Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Mission Promise Neighborhood partner La Raza Centro Legal has been key in helping inform our families of their tenants’ rights.
One family’s story
Elena Macario emigrated from Guatemala in 2001, making San Francisco her new home. She dreamt of a better life, despite initially living in cramped quarters with her parents and three brothers on Revere Avenue in the Bayview.
In 2014, her firstborn Jonathan joined the Bryant Elementary School family upon his entering kindergarten. Bryant is one of a duo of Mission District elementary schools in which the Mission Promise Neighborhood has a focus. Life was moving along just fine.
The situation changed for the worse in early 2016 when the family was faced with an all-too-common issue for Mission Promise Neighborhood families: securing affordable and stable housing. That’s because Elena and her children (Jonathan has a brother, Darwin, two years his junior) were vulnerable to losing their home, even though she invariably paid her share of the monthly rent. Turns out two of Elena’s three siblings failed to pay their share each month, thereby making all residents a target for eviction by the landlord. After receiving several warnings of eviction by the verbally intimidating owner, Elena hesitantly accepted a monetary offer to voluntarily vacate the premises — an offer she accepted solely to prevent having to go through an eviction ordeal.
Elena was fearful for her family, uncertain she had made the right choice. That’s when she quickly pivoted and turned that fear into action.
Elena sought the assistance of Mission Promise Neighborhood Family Success Coach Luis Ostolaza, who strengthens families at Bryant Elementary School. Ostolaza offered culturally relevant information on tenants’ rights in San Francisco, referring Elena to community-based organization Causa Justa :: Just Cause for additional support.
Causa Justa :: Just Cause helped Elena find a pro bono lawyer who alleviated her concerns by explaining that the prospective time frame was around one year for an eviction to occur in San Francisco. He also helped her wade through the steps of the typical eviction process, later representing Elena during her October 2016 eviction trial.
Knowing there was a year before an eviction could take place, Ostolaza began working with Elena on applying for BMR lotteries in San Francisco. Additionally, he helped her garner a Displaced Tenant Housing Preference (DTHP) — based on her being evicted — which offers far better chances of winning the BMR lottery.
The other part of the equation was getting Elena rental ready, which meant bettering her credit and building savings for the required security deposit.
The good news? At the end of December, Elena was called in for an interview for a BMR apartment at Trinity Phase 2 at 1190 Market St. Ostolaza accompanied her to the property to complete the final step of her BMR rental application.
A few weeks later, Elena was contacted with good news: Her household was selected for a one-bedroom BMR apartment.
Now with a signed rental contract, Elena says, “I can’t believe I now have a place for my kids and me to rest and study.”