Commander Daniel Parea (back row, left) and Captain Bill Griffin (right) of the San Francisco Police Department visit with Mission Housing managers Julie Sontag (front row, left), Marcía Contreras and Bhanu Patel. Photo by Tony Bear!
Meeting with police leadership is part of transition at Mission Station
Friday, March 17, the new head of the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission Station, Captain Bill Griffin, visited with managers of Mission Housing Development Corporation. The meeting was an opportunity to get acquainted, and to discuss concerns and issues facing Mission Housing residents, and the Mission District at large.
Griffin, previously captain at the San Francisco International Airport Bureau, is one of three new San Francisco police station captains named by Chief William Scott last week.
Also present for the discussion was the previous captain of Mission Station since 2014, Daniel Parea. Parea was recently promoted to commander.
“We have built a great relationship between the police and our residents, under Captain Parea’s leadership over the last few years,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services. “We congratulate him on being promoted to commander.”
The meeting, which lasted about an hour, covered a range of topics.
“This was an excellent opportunity to learn about Captain Griffin’s viewpoints, values and priorities for his team at Mission Station,” said Contreras. “We also gained a greater understanding of how we can work in partnership at servicing the needs of our community.”
Officers from the Mission Station routinely visit Mission Housing communities like Valencia Gardens, bearing gifts and candies during the holidays. Residents often connect with officers on foot patrol.
“Our efforts to build collaboration with SFPD has led to more of our residents being comfortable with officers, which contributes to making our properties and neighborhoods secure. This meeting gives us great optimism that we will continue to develop a stronger working relationship with SFPD to the benefit of our residents and surrounding communities,” said Contreras.
Staff and managers of Mission Housing and Caritas Management attend training to help citizens and non-citizens defend themselves against constitutional violations during ICE raids. Photo by Tony Bear!
Know Your Rights brochure distributed to Mission Housing residents, others; Mission Housing staffers conduct educational forums
Since January, 2017, U. S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents have conducted raids on immigrant communities in the Bay Area and around the country. Some raids have disrupted the families and households of citizens and non-citizens alike.
“Ever since ICE agents visited one of our complexes in January, we felt it was important to let our residents and neighbors know their rights,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing Development Corporation. “Everyone has certain basic constitutional rights, regardless of their citizenship status or the political climate. One of those rights is that a home is a sanctuary.”
Private property reminder
“Notice to Authorities” can be seen at the entrances of Mission Housing developments.
In the days following the ICE visit, Moss directed a “Notice to Authorities” be placed on the entrances of Mission Housing developments. The notice, crafted by attorneys, notifies law enforcement that no one on-site at a particular building has legal authority to validate warrants or other legal access documents. The notice advises that access to Mission Housing buildings requires a valid and executed search warrant, presented at the corporate headquarters, to the Executive Director, and only when he has legal counsel present.
Community outreach about constitutional protections
To help residents and neighbors of its apartment communities navigate encounters with law enforcement, Mission Housing has put a special outreach program in motion. Coordinated by Marcía Contreras, Mission Housing Director of Operations and Resident Services, the two-pronged approach was crafted with the help of legal professionals, and trained immigration practitioners from La Raza Centro Legal.
First, Vicky Castro, Executive Director of La Raza Centro Legal, trained the staff and managers of Mission Housing and Caritas Management on how citizens and non-citizens should defend themselves against constitutional violations during ICE raids.
San Francisco Immigrant Legal Education Network, also known as SFILEN, provided additional training to Mission Housing Resident Services team members (Chirag Bhakta, Aaron Bustamante, Veronica Green and Contreras) on the Rapid Response Network and steps to protect Mission District residents.
Armed with this knowledge, Mission Housing staffers are conducting Know Your Rights educational forums in the organization’s residential community rooms. The forums are open to anyone who wants to learn how to help protect the rights of San Franciscans anywhere.
Information at your fingertips
Second, Mission Housing created a tri-fold pamphlet, “Know Your Rights – What to do When Immigration Agents Arrive at Your Door.” The brochure details steps to take when immigration agents or other law enforcement go to a home. Sections of the publication include “If ICE Comes to Your Door,” and “Arrest Warrant Basics.” There is a list of community resources where legal aid or advice is available.
Mission Housing staff is also distributing a “Know Your Rights” card, which carries info about how to assert one’s constitutional rights.
Staff is also distributing a “Know Your Rights” card. The red card carries information about how to assert constitutional rights. And, the card includes a scripted explanation for quoting to ICE agents.
The forums and the materials are free of charge.
Keeping families stabilized
Mission Housing has also set aside $40,000 to establish the Mission Housing Family Stabilization Fund.
The fund will support Mission Housing families, and any member of the Mission community negatively affected by detention, deportation, ICE raids or other anti-immigrant actions. Examples of support would include but not be limited to assisting with rent payments and groceries if the “bread winner” of the family is detained. An application for assistance from the fund is being prepared, and will soon be available on the Mission Housing website, and at the management offices of Mission Housing properties.
“Keeping our families stabilized is always Job #1 at Mission Housing,” said Moss.
“Our community will pull through these troubling times only by coming together. Mission Housing will, by any means necessary, protect the rights of our residents and our neighbors.”
The ground floor area at 3254 24th Street will undergo one of the more extensive rehab efforts, eliminating the existing commercial space. Photo by Tony Bear!
Mission Housing begins life and safety upgrades; Mayor’s office funding retrofit on various permanently affordable rental units
The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development for the City and County of San Francisco, also known as MOHCD, has awarded Mission Housing Development Corporation $4.5 million to perform wholesale structural improvements on several buildings in the Mission Housing portfolio.
In 2016, MOHCD issued a Notice of Funding Availability, or NOFA. The goal of the funding: To finance the acquisition and rehabilitation of numerous multi-family buildings in the San Francisco Small Sites Program. Small Sites are defined as five- to 25-unit buildings that house low-income tenants vulnerable to displacement. The program provides the money needed to help nonprofits buy and/or maintain these sites. The residences are protected from real estate speculation and rising rents, and San Francisco affordable housing stock is maintained.
The Mission Housing response to the NOFA detailed the extensive rehab work needed to stabilize six multi-family buildings and help preserve their affordability over the long-term.
“One reason Mission Housing exists, is to stabilize and preserve affordable housing stock in the Mission and throughout San Francisco,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “People have a right to live in safe, habitable places. Thanks to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development we can make the investment needed to uphold the high quality of life all San Franciscans deserve, regardless of their income.”
Retrofits address multiple concerns while preserving housing stock, community-serving businesses
The six properties being retrofitted, originally built in the late 1890s and early 1920s, were acquired by Mission Housing in the 1980s and 1990s to preserve affordable housing stock.
The construction efforts are projected to begin in fourth quarter of 2017. Much of the work needed addresses seismic concerns, habitability, life/safety, and code compliance issues. While most of the building occupants should experience minimal disruption, a few residents may be temporarily relocated at some point in the construction phases.
The retrofit work will encompass a few commercial spaces. “Mission Housing is working with all the affected commercial tenants to ensure their businesses remain strong throughout construction,” said Moss.
Calle 24 Latino Cultural District could gain a community-serving space
The ground floor area at 3254 24th Street will undergo one of the more extensive rehab efforts, as part of essential life and safety upgrades needed to keep the upstairs residences viable. Because this renovation will substantially reduce the amount of commercial space, it could be converted to offices for the Mission Housing Resident Services team.
“We are looking into how the space could transition into a neighborhood-serving hub,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. Contreras is a member of the Calle 24 Council. “Our teams could be in closer proximity to our 24th Street-area residents, and more non-residents could access our community services.”
“This change would make 3254 24th Street another asset to the Mission District,” said Contreras.
The commercial tenant being displaced by the retrofit work will receive assistance with relocating.