Chirag Bhakta receives 2017 Daniel E. Koshland Civic Unity Award

Chirag Bhakta gestures toward his parents from the stage of Brava Theater, during the 2017 Koshland Civic Unity Awards. Photo by Tony Bear!

The Koshland Committee of The San Francisco Foundation selects Chirag Bhakta for the 2017 Koshland Civic Unity Award; forms a five-year partnership with the Koshland Program

The Koshland Committee of The San Francisco Foundation has selected Chirag Bhakta, Community Engagement Coordinator for Mission Housing Development Corporation, as a recipient of the 2017 Koshland Civic Unity Award. The award honors his contributions to the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco and forms a five-year partnership with the Koshland Program.

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Marisela Esparza

Marisela Esparza, Program Manager of San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network also received the Koshland Civic Unity award. Esparza is a board member of Mission Housing Development Corporation.

In celebration and recognition of his community work, Bhakta receives a personal award of $1,000. He will also collaborate with other neighborhood Fellows and the Koshland Committee in the allocation of approximately $300,000 over the next four years toward projects and efforts improving the quality of life in the Mission.

Bhakta and eleven others were feted in a ceremony at Brava Theater on June 28, 2017.

“To be honored in such a way, all this prestige along with a cohort of people I can honestly say I look up to,” Bhakta said in his remarks from stage. “I am humbled, I am elated to work with you all for the next half a decade”

“Half a decade for us to learn from each other, bond with each other, and build something together.”

“Chirag has a great deal of passion and love for our community, which fuels the great work he is doing at Mission Housing,” said has selected Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services. “He is matched-up with a very well-rounded, like-minded group of leaders. All of them are not afraid to fight for what is right and speak for those who can’t do it on their own.”

“Congratulations to all the Fellows. Their passion to make the Mission better inspires me!”

In recognizing community leaders, the Koshland Committee seeks to promote civic and community unity by building mutual respect among diverse elements of the community and encouraging collaboration in addressing neighborhood problems. The Koshland awards are given annually to recognize outstanding Bay Area community leaders who are not only risk-takers but also social innovators working to build healthy and productive neighborhoods.

About The Koshland Civic Unity Award
The award commemorates Daniel E. Koshland, a founder of The San Francisco Foundation. As a businessman and philanthropist, he committed both his resources and his energy to making the Bay Area a better place to live. He was also the founder of San Francisco’s Council for Civic Unity, which sought to alleviate injustices and discrimination by bringing together influential private and public sector leaders to solve community problems.

Information from The San Francisco Foundation contributed to this post

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Koshland Awardees 2017

The 2017 Koshland Civic Unity Fellows (left to right): Nadia Conrad, Jon Jacobo, Diana Martinez, Sandra Sandoval, Marilyn Duran, Lorena Melgarejo, Lara Kiswani, Eric Cuentos, Celina Lucero, Chirag Bhakta, Marisela Esparza, Dairo Romero. Photo courtesy SF Foundation

2017 Daniel E. Koshland Civic Unity Fellows

Chirag Bhakta,
Community Engagement Coordinator, Mission Housing Development Corporation
Nadia Conrad,
Teen Programs Coordinator, Jamestown Community Center
Eric Cuentos,
Director of Parent Partner Program, Mission Graduates
Marilyn Duran,
Community Organizer, PODER
Marisela Esparza,
Program Manager, San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network
Jon Jacobo,
Land Use Committee Member, Calle 24 Latino Cultural District
Lara Kiswani,
Executive Director, Arab Resource & Organizing Center
Celina Lucero,
Executive Director, Horizons
Lorena Melgarejo,
Coordinator of Parish Organizing, Archdiocese of San Francisco
Diana Martinez,
Mission SRO Collaborative Manager, Dolores Street Community Services
Dairo Romero,
Community Planning Manager, Mission Economic Development Agency
Sandra Sandoval,
Lifelong Missionera

Forum details latest on Balboa Park Station Area Plan

Several dozen people filled the SPUR Urban Center auditorium in downtown San Francisco to hear a panel forum on the impacts the Balboa Park Station Area Plan thus far. Photos by Tony Bear!

Stakeholders, planners, developers converge to share progress of Balboa Park Station Area Plan

Wednesday, June 21, 2017, several dozen people filled the auditorium at SPUR Urban Center, the downtown San Francisco headquarters of San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, also known as SPUR. The occasion was a panel forum, where an update was given on the impacts the Balboa Park Station Area Plan has had on the area.

Mission Housing Development Corporation | SPUR Urban Center auditorium

Panelists (from left to right) Jeremy Shaw, Sam Moss, Daniel Weaver and Kate Favetti listen to a question from the audience at the Better Neighborhoods at Balboa Park forum.

The presentation was kicked off by Jeremy Shaw of the San Francisco Planning Department. Shaw ran through details and history of the area plan, and walked through some of the neighborhood’s development challenges.

Sam Moss of Mission Housing Development Corporation discussed the community outreach being conducted leading to the construction of affordable housing on the Balboa Park Upper Yard site.

Daniel Weaver of the Ocean Avenue Association, and Kate Favetti, former board member of the Westwood Park Association, gave a history of their efforts to bring thoughtful development to the area.

After the presentations, audience members directed questions to the panelists, and heard about the challenges and opportunities that remain.

San Francisco adopted the Balboa Park Station Area Plan in 2009, as part of its Better Neighborhoods Program. The plan resulted in new mixed-use development, public space, and pedestrian improvements along Ocean Avenue. The plan also was the catalyst for the development of the Upper Yard and Balboa Reservoir parcels.

SPUR — San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association — is a member-supported nonprofit organization with offices in San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland. SPUR conducts Through research, education and advocacy to promote good planning and good government in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The forum was co-presented by the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC).

Fall fundraising event date announced

September fundraising event celebrates Mission Housing anniversary,  supports on-site social services, recognizes community vanguards

The Board of Directors and staff of Mission Housing Development Corporation today announced the date for the organization’s fall fundraising event.

Thursday, September 14, 2017 is when the Mission Housing Gala, Silent Auction and Community Awards will be held at the Laborers Local 261 Hall in San Francisco [MAP].

The theme of the event, “46 Years of Building Safe, Empowered, and Resilient Communities” will be the basis for storytelling about Mission Housing residents who’ve recovered from adversity because of the affordable housing and supportive services they received. Also recognized: Two community leaders who have been empowering voices in the fight to build strong neighborhoods.

“This will be an important celebration of our residents, our neighbors, our vanguards and our future,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “We’ve come a long way in 46 years. By the time we hit our 50th anniversary we’ll have even more accomplishments to celebrate.”

Mission Housing on Eventbrite

Early bird event admission sales are available now, through May 31 at missionhousing2017gala.eventbrite.com

“This event is our way of celebrating our successes and honoring those who make them possible,” Moss said.

Creating stable, vibrant and healthy communities

Funds raised from sponsorships and ticket sales will strengthen and sustain important Resident Services provided to occupants of the 100% affordable housing sites operated by Mission Housing.

“Our tenants and our neighborhoods thrive because of the free and voluntary on-site supportive services available from Mission Housing,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services at Mission Housing. “The funds we bring in with this event will help stabilize the lives of many families and individuals.”

Sponsorship sign-ups are underway now. For more information about sponsorship levels and benefits, download this PDF, or contact Tony Bear!

Several unique and interesting items will be available for bid in the silent auction. If you can donate an item to be auctioned off, please contact Marcía Contreras.

Early bird event admission sales are available now, through May 31 at missionhousing2017gala.eventbrite.com.

Push Yourself from Mission Housing on Vimeo.

Dozens give input on Balboa Park Upper Yard development

Mission Housing directors Marcía Contreras (3rd from right) and Martín Ugarte (2nd from right) lead a break-out group discussion at the March 25, 2017 community meeting about the affordable housing construction planned for the Balboa Park Upper Yard site. Photo by Tony Bear!

First large public community meeting shares information, solicits opinions

Saturday, March 25, eighty people attended a three-hour community meeting at Balboa High School. The event, organized by Mission Housing Development Corporation staff, shared details about the affordable housing construction planned for the Balboa Park Upper Yard site, a vacant property at the corner of San Jose and Geneva Avenues in San Francisco. The 100-percent affordable rental housing planned for the site will be offered to low- and very low-income families, including some formerly homeless.

The goals of the meeting: to share basic information about the issues surrounding the mixed-use complex, and to get input from community stakeholders about ways the apartment building can best serve the Balboa Park neighborhood.

Mission Housing Executive Director Sam Moss opened the meeting. He acknowledged the years of community engagement that helped bring the project to fruition.

“Many organizations and individuals are responsible for getting us to here,” said Moss. A slide in the presentation thanked John Avalos, San Francisco District 11 Supervisor from 2009 – 2013.

“Supervisor Avalos and his staff put in years of tireless advocacy and community organizing that brought this project to light, from its first envisioning through convincing SFCity to buy the land and hold the Request For Qualification competition led to this day.”

Also recognized: A coalition of community stakeholders organized as Communities United for Health and Justice. CUHJ conducted dozens of community surveys, group meetings and face-to-face interviews with residents of District 11. The work helped define the community vision for the Balboa Park Upper Yard development.

Planning and zoning requirements, transit hub considerations

San Francisco’s Planning Department and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, also known as MOHCD, have specified various aspects of zoning and land use for the Balboa Park Upper Yard parcel. Much of the vision for the site was formulated in the Balboa Park Station Area Plan, developed in 2008 and 2009. The meeting began with a presentation detailing the city’s vision for the site.

The Transit-Oriented Development is being done in partnership with MOHCD, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The office of District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí will help Mission Housing coordinate all parties and keep the hopes and concerns of the entire community at the forefront of every decision.

All the parties are collaborating to upgrade transit facilities, and improve pedestrian and bike rider safety, along with the construction of the housing and community-serving ground floor spaces.

Scott Falcone, a long-time neighborhood resident and an affordable housing development consultant to Mission Housing, outlined how the community planning process will progress, and discussed the development schedule. Then, Falcone and Moss clarified what goals the development will accomplish, beyond creating 80 to 120 units of affordable housing. “This is an opportunity to create a gateway into the neighborhood at this major transportation center,” said Falcone. “The development team is committed to working together with the community in a meaningful way, today and throughout the years to come.”

Anne Torney, AIA, partner at Mithun | Solomon, the architecture firm charged with designing the development, presented the opportunities and challenges the development faces. Some of the areas examined: SFMTA and BART considerations, street design, and neighborhood impacts. Developers hope to include community-serving ground floor spaces and public open space to for use by the apartment tenants as well as residents of the surrounding neighborhood. “Our goal is to balance the need for affordable units, and the desire for the building to fit-in with the neighborhood scale,” said Torney. “This is an opportunity to create a neighborhood-transforming asset.”

“We will be designing and building the Balboa Park Upper Yard development in a manner that produces a high-quality, enduring living environment.”

Four break-out groups allowed community members to drill down into particular topics about the development. The lively discussions included issues such as: the design of the building, housing affordability, circulation and transportation, and supportive services. The developers displayed enlarged visuals, and note takers recorded the feedback given. Community members offered opinions about important considerations, and gave optimistic solutions for the development team to consider. At the end of the meeting, all the participants heard highlights from the break-out group discussions.

Only the beginning

The March 25 meeting was the first in a series of large public community meetings this year, to ensure the community has considerable input. The development team already participated in meetings with District 11 community organizations and neighborhood resident associations in 2016, and earlier this year. These smaller meetings will continue.

Second public meeting reviews construction scenarios

May 13th, another large community meeting was held at Balboa High School. This meeting was well attended by community members. Also present were staff from MOHCD, SFMTA, Planning and BART.

The development team presented a range of construction scenarios based upon the community input obtained at the March meeting. The PowerPoint presentation and design variables presented to the community members are linked below.

Aditi Mahmud, Project Manager at Mission Housing, is the organizer of the Balboa Park Upper Yard community meetings. She looks forward to engaging more community partners to host future events. “Every community meeting should be accessible to people all over the Outer Mission/Excelsior area, so we are looking at a variety of venues for future events,” said Mahmud. “Thanks to John Neponuceno, the assistant principal at Balboa High, and his staff. They have helped make planning our events smooth and painless.”

This fall, the developers hope to submit a community-endorsed plan for the development to the Planning Department.

RELATED: View the March PowerPoint presentation shown

RELATED: View the May PowerPoint presentation shown

RELATED: See the Construction Variations discussed May 13

RELATED: See this PDF for frequently mentioned comments from the March 25, 2017 community meeting, and other meetings from the last several months.

READ ALSO: Mayor’s Office selects Mission Housing and Related California partnership to build affordable housing at Outer Mission/Excelsior site