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.

Residents find holiday cheer thanks to Mission Housing staff

Martín Ugarte, Associate Director of Resident Services for Mission Housing, and Veronica Green, Valencia Gardens Community Associate Director, inspect the wrapping on toys to be distributed later. Photo by Tony Bear!

Hundreds of Mission Housing tenants enjoy holiday festivities thanks to Resident Services team

Eighteen holiday celebrations spread among fifteen buildings. Hundreds of toys distributed. One thousand pounds of food served. Lots of smiling faces seen.

Every year, the Resident Services team of Mission Housing Development Corporation makes sure tenants get a little dose of holiday cheer. November through December, the sights and sounds of the season brighten the community rooms of several Mission Housing apartment buildings.

“Our goal is to make sure we keep our tenants engaged during the holidays,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. “The end-of-year festivities help to bring our residents together, and make certain everyone has something to celebrate, no matter their circumstances. We hope these celebrations and gatherings create an environment that will take away some of the stress and isolation that can come with this time of year.”

Contreras supervises Mission Housing Resident Services Coordinators as they take charge of every facet of the group celebrations. Coordinators manage the residents who enjoy keeping busy by volunteering to decorate rooms and prepare meals. The undertaking is a collaboration with the on-site management staffs of Caritas Management Corporation and The John Stewart Company.

Holiday festivities mean food

Residents in Mission Housing senior buildings, and occupants of the Mission Housing single room hotels, enjoy holiday luncheons. At the Mission Housing family buildings, residents gather around tables for a festive sit-down dinner.

Some of the meals are prepared and served by staff, others are cooked and served by resident volunteers. In most cases, the food and refreshments are provided by Mission Housing. Tenants in the SRO buildings dedicate proceeds from vending machine sales towards buying food for their group holiday meals.

Holiday Wish Drive gift program fulfills wishes

At the family building celebrations, Mission Housing kids aged 12 and younger receive toys from The Family Giving Tree, as part of their Holiday Wish Drive. The Holiday Wish Drive receives personalized gift wishes, and raises money to bulk-purchase gifts. Various donors also buy and drop off actual toys.

Mission Housing staffers make several trips to The Family Giving Tree warehouse to pick up contributed toys. Resident volunteers help staff with gift-wrapping. The gifts are put into age-appropriate collections. The Family Giving Tree includes toothbrushes with the gifts, as a way to remind and encourage children to engage in proper dental hygiene practices.

“For our families who struggle to make ends meet, these might be the only gifts the children will receive during the holidays,” said Martín Ugarte, Associate Director of Resident Services for Mission Housing. “This is why our team enjoys putting so much effort into our holiday gift distributions.”

Mission Housing seniors enjoy summer luncheon

The meal, catered by San Jalisco, was delivered restaurant-style to each diner. Photos by Tony Bear!

Mission Housing seniors gather at Alcantara Court for a three hour social

On Friday, August 5, the Resident Services Department of Mission Housing Development Corporation hosted several dozen seniors at a Mexican-themed summer luncheon and social.

Residents from Alcantara Court, Apartamentos de la Esperanza, and the Abel Gonzalez Apartments came to the Alcantara Court community room to enjoy each other’s company, and have fun participating in raffles — and even dancing!

The meal, catered by San Jalisco, was delivered restaurant-style to each diner. A lively soundtrack of Mexican music was piped-in to the room during the event. Some of the seniors invited young relatives.

Once lunch was served, Mission Housing and Caritas Management staff conducted a raffle for a wide variety of valuable prizes.

“Every summer we throw a little party as a way of showing our seniors how much we appreciate them,” said Martín Ugarte of Mission Housing. “These luncheons are also a great way for our residents to engage with one another.”

After lunch and dessert was served the music was turned up a little louder. Some of the residents kicked-up their heels and brought some merriment to the gathering.