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Leaders highlight Excelsior development, urge grand bargain on affordable housing bills

Mission Housing Development Corporation Executive Director Sam Moss (left) watches as San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí makes comments at a rally encouraging California lawmakers to pass comprehensive legislation that prioritizes affordable housing statewide. Looking on are California Assemblymember Phil Ting (center), Senator Scott Wiener and Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. Photo by Tony Bear!

Work to turn Balboa Park parking lot into 100 units of affordable housing could begin sooner if state legislature reaches agreement on affordable housing bills

California Assemblymember Phil Ting and Senator Scott Wiener today joined San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí and more than 30 community members, workers and Excelsior District residents to support a proposal to turn the two-acre Balboa Park Upper Yard parking lot next to the Balboa Park BART station into 100 units of much-needed affordable housing.

Speakers also called upon Governor Jerry Brown and state legislators to approve a comprehensive package of affordable housing bills as soon as Sacramento leaders return from their summer recess on August 21, which they said will help projects such as the Balboa Park Upper Yard.

“State proposals to increase both short- and long-term affordable housing funding, and prioritize affordable housing for expedited permitting could help accelerate groundbreaking at the parking lot by up to six months,” said Mission Housing Development Corporation Executive Director Sam Moss. Mission Housing is building Balboa Park Upper Yard with co-developer Related California. “When this process begins, soon we can be housing people instead of cars, and making San Francisco neighborhoods better.”

The Balboa Park Upper Yard development is located in the districts of all three elected officials who spoke at this morning’s rally. The development will provide homes to low-income families struggling to survive on-going San Francisco housing crisis. Also included in the apartments: a child care facility, community-serving commercial spaces, and a public park. There will also be improvements to the Balboa Park BART station plaza.

“Housing costs are fueling inequality by uprooting families and reducing access to high-wage jobs of the future. Across California, families overpay for housing or commute great distances from housing they can afford,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). “When the Legislature reconvenes later this month, we are energized to reach a grand bargain on affordable housing. Our success will decide whether projects like the Upper Yard are routine or a novel anomaly.”

“California’s housing crisis is deep and threatens our economy, environment, and quality of life,” said Senator Scott Wiener, who has authored a bill to streamline housing approvals. “We need to make it easier to create housing at all income levels, and we must create sustained funding for affordable housing. The State needs to step up and be part of the solution.”

“The building of 100 units of affordable housing in District 11 is a harbinger of my and the City’s commitment to securing housing for working families,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safai. “The fast-tracking of permits for new, affordable family housing, undoubtedly, will help the city keep the families it so desperately needs.”

Supervisor Safaí has only recently completed his first six months in office, but he has already delivered significant affordable housing investments for the residents of District 11 neighborhoods such as the Excelsior, Outer Mission, and Ocean View/Merced Heights/Ingleside. Earlier this year, Sup. Safaí led efforts at the Board of Supervisors to craft, and win unanimous approval for, what has become the strongest inclusionary housing ordinance in the country, complete with housing requirements for working class and middle income families.

Assemblymember David Chiu, who represents the district that begins just blocks east of the Balboa Park Upper Yard, sent the following statement: “California is in the midst of an intense housing crisis. The legislature must act on housing to ensure Balboa Park Upper Yard and projects like it across the state can get built quickly and begin to house Californians.”

“When the legislature passes a comprehensive Affordable Housing Bill Package, Mission Housing will able to expand the type of high quality services the residents and community of Balboa Park deserve,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing.

Many of those who came out this morning stand to benefit from more projects such as the Balboa Park Upper Yard, especially if state officials deliver on their pledge to pass a comprehensive package of affordable housing bills. Supporters at today’s rally included neighborhood residents eagerly awaiting to apply for a home, housing advocates pushing for more housing across all income levels throughout California, and union construction workers hoping to work on a development that they could one day live in.

READ ALSO: Dozens give input on Balboa Park Upper Yard development

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).

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.





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