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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 Balboa Park 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.

In late May, at another large community meeting, the development team will present a range of construction scenarios based upon the community input obtained.

Aditi Mahmud, Project Manager at Mission Housing, organized the March 25 event. 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 helped make planning our event smooth and painless.”

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

RELATED: View the presentation shown

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

New Mission Station captain, Mission Housing managers meet

Commander Daniel Parea (back row, left) and Captain Bill Griffin (right) of the San Francisco Police Department visit with Mission Housing managers Julie Sontag (front row, left), Marcía Contreras and Bhanu Patel. Photo by Tony Bear!

Meeting with police leadership is part of transition at Mission Station

Friday, March 17, the new head of the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission Station, Captain Bill Griffin, visited with managers of Mission Housing Development Corporation. The meeting was an opportunity to get acquainted, and to discuss concerns and issues facing Mission Housing residents, and the Mission District at large.

Griffin, previously captain at the San Francisco International Airport Bureau, is one of three new San Francisco police station captains named by Chief William Scott last week.

Also present for the discussion was the previous captain of Mission Station since 2014, Daniel Parea. Parea was recently promoted to commander.

“We have built a great relationship between the police and our residents, under Captain Parea’s leadership over the last few years,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services. “We congratulate him on being promoted to commander.”

The meeting, which lasted about an hour, covered a range of topics.

“This was an excellent opportunity to learn about Captain Griffin’s viewpoints, values and priorities for his team at Mission Station,” said Contreras. “We also gained a greater understanding of how we can work in partnership at servicing the needs of our community.”

Officers from the Mission Station routinely visit Mission Housing communities like Valencia Gardens, bearing gifts and candies during the holidays. Residents often connect with officers on foot patrol.

“Our efforts to build collaboration with SFPD has led to more of our residents being comfortable with officers, which contributes to making our properties and neighborhoods secure. This meeting gives us great optimism that we will continue to develop a stronger working relationship with SFPD to the benefit of our residents and surrounding communities,” said Contreras.

RELATED: New captains named for three SF police stations

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

Mission affordable housing builder undertakes retrofit

The ground floor area at 3254 24th Street will undergo one of the more extensive rehab efforts, eliminating the existing commercial space. Photo by Tony Bear!

Mission Housing begins life and safety upgrades; Mayor’s office funding retrofit on various permanently affordable rental units

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development for the City and County of San Francisco, also known as MOHCD, has awarded Mission Housing Development Corporation $4.5 million to perform wholesale structural improvements on several buildings in the Mission Housing portfolio.

In 2016, MOHCD issued a Notice of Funding Availability, or NOFA. The goal of the funding: To finance the acquisition and rehabilitation of numerous multi-family buildings in the San Francisco Small Sites Program. Small Sites are defined as five- to 25-unit buildings that house low-income tenants vulnerable to displacement. The program provides the money needed to help nonprofits buy and/or maintain these sites. The residences are protected from real estate speculation and rising rents, and San Francisco affordable housing stock is maintained.

The Mission Housing response to the NOFA detailed the extensive rehab work needed to stabilize six multi-family buildings and help preserve their affordability over the long-term.

“One reason Mission Housing exists, is to stabilize and preserve affordable housing stock in the Mission and throughout San Francisco,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “People have a right to live in safe, habitable places. Thanks to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development we can make the investment needed to uphold the high quality of life all San Franciscans deserve, regardless of their income.”

Retrofits address multiple concerns while preserving housing stock, community-serving businesses

The six properties being retrofitted, originally built in the late 1890s and early 1920s, were acquired by Mission Housing in the 1980s and 1990s to preserve affordable housing stock.

The construction efforts are projected to begin in fourth quarter of 2017. Much of the work needed addresses seismic concerns, habitability, life/safety, and code compliance issues. While most of the building occupants should experience minimal disruption, a few residents may be temporarily relocated at some point in the construction phases.

The retrofit work will encompass a few commercial spaces. “Mission Housing is working with all the affected commercial tenants to ensure their businesses remain strong throughout construction,” said Moss.

Calle 24 Latino Cultural District could gain a community-serving space

The ground floor area at 3254 24th Street will undergo one of the more extensive rehab efforts, as part of essential life and safety upgrades needed to keep the upstairs residences viable. Because this renovation will substantially reduce the amount of commercial space, it could be converted to offices for the Mission Housing Resident Services team.

“We are looking into how the space could transition into a neighborhood-serving hub,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. Contreras is a member of the Calle 24 Council. “Our teams could be in closer proximity to our 24th Street-area residents, and more non-residents could access our community services.”

“This change would make 3254 24th Street another asset to the Mission District,” said Contreras.

The commercial tenant being displaced by the retrofit work will receive assistance with relocating.

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