Self-sufficiency focus drives new charity fund

The Resident Services team at Mission Housing provides a number of social and community services that help tenants stabilize their lives and eventually prosper. Photo montage by Tony Bear!

Donations to new fund earmarked for quality-of-life services provided to Mission Housing tenants at no cost

All of the people living in the buildings of Mission Housing Development Corporation are defined as low- to moderate-income, and many face significant challenges and difficult circumstances.

Every day, the team of Resident Services Coordinators at Mission Housing works to provide one-on-one case management, and make quality-of-life enhancements available to more than 3,000 people residing in Mission Housing buildings. Resident and community services help tenants stabilize their lives and eventually prosper.

Services provided by Mission Housing are born through community input and tailored to address the needs of each individual resident, each housing development, and the unique neighborhoods surrounding each complex.

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Sam Moss
“Putting a roof over someone’s head is merely the beginning of the journey” — Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing.

Many of the voluntary social services provided on-site are the result of partnerships created with local service providers. These tenant-centered resident services stabilize and empower hundreds of Mission Housing inhabitants every year.

“Some of the vulnerable San Franciscans who come to live at Mission Housing arrive with only the clothes on their back,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “Putting a roof over someone’s head is merely the beginning of the journey. The real work begins once an individual or family is housed. Our goal is to help residents achieve and maintain independent living as soon as possible.”

“Mission Housing does whatever it takes to create a stabilizing environment.”

“Stabilizing” often means providing personal items like toiletries, bedding, clothing or other items to residents transitioning from homelessness, or, helping a low-income family access services such as child care, before and after school care, and food pantries. Resident Services Coordinators also refer tenants to health and dental screenings, and other wellness services that contribute to the overall well-being of each family member.

Once residents have been stabilized, the focus of the Resident Services team turns to quality-of-life issues. Computer labs & technology training, arts & crafts classes, health & wellness classes, life skills classes, community social hours and more are provided. Community organizing programs help empower residents to have a stake in their neighborhoods. Social gatherings help residents engage with their neighbors, preventing loneliness and depression.

Revenue from housing development rent is designated to address building capital improvements, repairs, general operations issues and mortgage payments. Since the extra mile of care provided by Mission Housing Resident Services comes from discretionary funds, applying the services consistently can be a challenge.

Now, the Mission Housing Board of Directors has authorized the creation of a special pool of money earmarked exclusively for Resident Services.

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Marcía Contreras
“This fund is a way to channel what we receive from charitable people who want to support the well-being of our residents”– Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing.

The Mission Housing Tenant Health, Wellness and Community Fund will receive financial donations that will support creating stable, vibrant and healthy communities.

“An important part of our mission is promoting the self-sufficiency of low and moderate income families, seniors, and persons with considerable life challenges,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. “Donations to the Mission Housing Tenant Health and Wellness Fund will help us continue to provide accessible, much needed services to our residents, at no cost to them.”

“This fund is a way to channel what we receive from charitable people who want to support the well-being of our residents.”

The fund will receive donations throughout the year. Tax deductible donations can be made electronically via PayPal at the “Donate” button below, or via check sent to:

Mission Housing Tenant Health and Wellness Fund
474 Valencia St., #280, San Francisco, CA 94103

Sponsorships and ticket sales for the Mission Housing 2017 Gala, Silent Auction and Community Awards on September 14, 2017, will also raise money for the Tenant Health and Wellness Fund. Find out more about the gala HERE.





SF-Marin Food Bank honors Mission Housing food pantry operations

Representing Mission Housing at the SF-Marin Food Bank Pantry Appreciation Lunch were: (standing, from left) Thomas Caulk, Resident Services Coordinator; Eric Chak, volunteer; Aaron Bustamante, Resident Services Coordinator; Millie Liu, volunteer; Selina Wong, volunteer; Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services. Kneeling in front are Martín Ugarte, (left) Associate Director of Resident Services and Karla Perez, Resident Services Coordinator.

More than twenty years of food pantry operations recognized by SF-Marin Food Bank; food pantry staff and volunteers enjoy luncheon

Mission Housing Development Corporation has been recognized as having more than twenty years of partnership with the SF-Marin Food Bank.

Members of the Mission Housing Resident Services team attended the SF-Marin Food Bank Pantry Appreciation Lunch on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. There, SF-Marin Food Bank honored entities that have served as outlets for delivering neighborhood food pantry services.

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Longevity Awards
The SF-Marin Food Bank Pantry Longevity Awards, presented to Dunleavy Apartments and Esperanza Apartments.

SF-Marin Food Bank collaborates with a network of 419 community organizations in delivering food assistance to end hunger and food insecurity in San Francisco. Important to the food bank’s effort is securing venues to host food pantries. Residences owned by Mission Housing — Dunleavy Apartments and Esperanza Apartments — were two of the fourteen developments honored with the Longevity Award at the luncheon.

“We are very proud to have Dunleavy and Esperanza be among the first affordable housing operations to partner with SF-Marin Food Bank,” said Marcía Contreras, Mission Housing Director of Operations and Resident Services. “Now, several of our family buildings, SROs and senior residences host weekly food pantries.”

Contreras invited three Mission Housing residents who volunteer at the weekly food pantries to attend the event.

“Our residents who volunteer to facilitate the weekly food pantries perform an important service, and we are very grateful to have their participation.”

In addition to food, SF-Marin Food Bank provides Mission Housing residents with nutrition-education resources and workshops, language and translation support, and food-safety training.

Know Your Rights handout, training empowers Mission residents

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!
Mission Housing Development Corporation | Know Your Rights

Mission Housing created a tri-fold pamphlet, “Know Your Rights – What to do When Immigration Agents Arrive at Your Door,” available in three languages.

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

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Notice to Authorities

“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 Development Corporation | red card

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.”

RELATED:

Know Your Rights brochure – English [PDF]

Know Your Rights brochure – Spanish [PDF]

Know Your Rights brochure – Chinese [PDF]

Notice to Authorities poster [PDF]

READ MORE: Housing, Legal Groups Outline Immigrant Rights When Facing ICE

Film production features Mission Housing residents

The film documentary “3000 Stories” explores how, amidst the challenges of today’s housing market, San Franciscans survive and thrive thanks to Mission Housing.

Affordable housing, supportive services changing lives of vulnerable San Franciscans; film documents inspirational stories

A documentary film puts faces on the human side of the San Francisco affordable housing crisis.

In “3000 Stories,” students from the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) Cinema program interviewed residents of Mission Housing Development Corporation. The tenants relate, in their own words, how affordable housing and supportive services helped them transition from homelessness and other desperate situations. These residents and their inspirational stories are windows into the soul of the Mission District and San Francisco.

Stitched together from a series of interviews conducted during the summer of 2016, “3000 Stories” explores how, amidst the challenges of today’s housing market, San Franciscans survive and thrive thanks to Mission Housing.

The interview subjects — a formerly homeless veteran, a senior citizen, single parents, people living with HIV/AIDS, immigrants, and others — are a cross-section representing the more than 3,000 people who reside in Mission Housing developments throughout San Francisco.

Mission Housing Development Corporation | 3000 Stories

Students from the CCSF Cinema program interview a Mission Housing resident for a segment of “3000 Stories.” Photo by Tony Bear!

“This documentary gives the audience a peek behind the walls of our buildings,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “When you meet our residents, you learn how affordable housing and supportive services make a big difference in the lives of our most vulnerable San Franciscans.”

Moss is also interviewed in the film. He explains the organization’s commitment to creating and preserving affordable housing developments and vibrant neighborhoods across The City. This commitment is the driving force behind the work Mission Housing has done since 1971.

“It’s not officially stated, but I believe the mission of Mission Housing is to be an anchor and support system for anyone in San Francisco that needs it,” Moss said, in the film.

Minimizing impacts of gentrification, while taking care of people

Pete Gallegos, a San Francisco-area real estate professional and native son of the Mission District, was interviewed for “3000 Stories.” Gallegos served on the Mission Housing Board of Directors from 2006 to 2016. He was Board Chair from 2013 to 2016.

Gallegos’ historical perspective explores the impact gentrification has had on his neighborhood. “When you are talking about displacement, some people think of it as a natural progression,” says Gallegos, in the film. “What’s going on now, is that people can no longer stay where they are, without feeling that they won’t be displaced.” He also relates how the “people first” values of Mission Housing are an important catalyst in the quest for equitable solutions to affordable housing, and the preservation of neighborhood character in San Francisco.

“When people put down roots, they take pride in their neighborhood, they take pride in their schools,” says Gallegos, in the film.

One of the central themes of the film: The important social and supportive assistance received by Mission Housing residents. This work is supervised by Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations & Resident Services for Mission Housing. “Being able to interact with our residents… and connect directly with them… is really important to understand what’s going on with the families,” says Contreras, in the film. “[This helps us] to be able to engage with them, and build that level of rapport so they feel comfortable in coming to you.”

Made in the Mission

The CCSF students who worked on the film were organized by StoryCan Productions, a production company created to produce the film and four 30-second public service announcements (also known as PSAs). The students who joined the production were chosen because of their filmmaking talent, their passion for storytelling, and driven work ethic. The producers were Aracelli Frias — a recent graduate of the Cinema program — and Zahira Lala Salma, a fourth-year Cinema student who was also the film’s director. Salma’s first-hand experience with homelessness inspired her to take on the project.

Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts was the site for the debut of “3000 Stories” on December 16, 2016. Other public viewings are planned.

A high definition version of “3000 Stories” can be streamed from Vimeo, the popular video-sharing website. The film has its own Vimeo channel, where the PSAs culled from the film are also available for viewing.

The students also created “Storefronts: Doing Business in the Mission.” This film examines the nonprofits and small businesses leasing the affordable commercial spaces in Mission Housing developments. The film explores how the commercial tenants contribute to the fabric of San Francisco neighborhoods.