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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.