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dev/Mission graduates first tech student cohort

A ceremony on Friday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2017 at the Valencia Gardens community room acknowledged the sixteen young people who completed the first dev/Mission cohort. Photos by Tony Bear!

Friday, August 18, 2017, a commencement ceremony was held at the community room of Valencia Gardens. Sixteen students graduated from the inaugural cohort of dev/Mission, a free training program where people ages 16 to 24 learn technology skills and critical career skills.

The graduates are:

  • Lorena Benitez
  • Leslie Canjura
  • Angelica Ceja
  • Jessica Colorado
  • Anthony Khieu
  • Mantasha Lakdawala
  • Zefu Li
  • Henry Lopez
  • Elisa Mendoza
  • Julian Morrisette
  • Nancy Okun
  • Cesar Partida
  • Mellany Quiroz
  • Noe Roman
  • Prisila Simental
  • Marcell Urbina

Marcell Urbina, a dev/Mission student and the master of ceremonies, started the event by thanking everyone who participated in the program, and thanking the family members and others who were in attendance at the graduation.

The founder and Executive Director of dev/Mission, Leo Sosa, gave an impassioned talk, where he encouraged the students to seize every moment as they put their newly found knowledge to work.

Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing Development Corporation, congratulated the students, and thanked them for having the drive and initiative to complete the course. Mission Housing is a founding sponsor and partner in dev/Mission.

The evening’s keynote speaker was Jaime Martinez, CEO of TekLeap, a premier Information Technology firm. Martinez shared with the students his humble beginnings as a young native of El Salvador — what he called a “jungle boy” — who came to the United States with his parents, and then was forced to climb the social ladder. He encouraged the students to remember their roots, and reach back to give back.

Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing, expressed her profound pride in the accomplishment of the cohort. She was effusive in her praise for the young women who completed the course, and encouraged them to stay resolute in their climb up the tech world ladder.

Coding instructors Christian Salas and Yaritza Perez showcased websites created by the students.

Several of the instructors, volunteers and partners of the dev/Mission program were acknowledged, and then the student certificates were handed out.

The evening concluded with a buffet of food from San Jalisco Mexican restaurant.

Mission Housing pipeline adds new Balboa Reservoir affordable homes

A rendering from the presentation shown at two June 2017 community workshops, where three developer teams presented their proposals. Source: SF Planning website

San Francisco selects team to develop hundreds of units on huge site near City College; fourth development awarded to Mission Housing since 2015

The San Francisco Planning Department today announced the team of developers charged with bringing hundreds of new homes to the Balboa Reservoir, a 17.7-acre site next to City College of San Francisco.

Mission Housing Development Corporation, along with AvalonBay Communities, BRIDGE Housing Corporation, Habitat for Humanity of Greater San Francisco, and Pacific Union Development Company won the competitive process that began in March, 2017, when teams first submitted their qualifications.

Using city land to create housing

The site is currently owned by the City and County of San Francisco via the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).

The Balboa Reservoir Development is part of the “Public Land for Housing program,” a collaboration among San Francisco officials to address the City’s housing needs by maximizing the use of City-owned land.

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Balboa Reservoir meeting

June 10, 2017 dozens of community stakeholders pour over proposals to develop housing at the Balboa Reservoir site. Photo by Tony Bear!

The San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and the Planning Department coordinated the RFP process on behalf of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

After the proposals were submitted last May, each was publicly presented and discussed. The SFPUC accepted the recommendation of the panel which reviewed the proposals — and the public input — submitted.

“The winning proposal does an exceptional job of addressing both San Francisco’s extreme housing need and the community’s vision for the Balboa Reservoir,” said Harlan L. Kelly, Jr., SFPUC General Manager.

According to Ken Rich, SF OEWD Director of Development, the winning team “…brings tremendous experience building quality affordable and mixed-use housing, working thoughtfully with local communities, and successfully tackling large and complex projects.”

Partnerships facilitating affordable housing solutions

Two of the developers chosen have already teamed-up on other San Francisco affordable housing. Mission Housing and BRIDGE Housing expect to break ground on 160 new, 100 percent affordable family units at 1950 Mission Street in a few months.

Several entities on the team have built, or are building, in the Balboa Park area. Mission Housing and partner Related California are making progress on constructing new, 100 percent affordable homes across from the Balboa Park BART station.

Mission Housing will develop and own one or more buildings on the Balboa Reservoir site. Habitat for Humanity will develop affordable for-sale housing.

The co-lead developers of Balboa Reservoir are two of the region’s most prolific developers of apartment communities. AvalonBay and BRIDGE Housing will rely on Mission Housing to take the lead with engaging the community during the next several months. This engagement will refine the proposal for the site.

“Much of what we’re learning during our Balboa Park Upper Yard engagement process was vital in helping us win this new award,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “Our main task over the next several months will be to ensure the people of San Francisco, especially those living in the immediate neighborhood, have a say in how this valuable land will be utilized.”

“Balboa Reservoir will be one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in San Francisco. Our plan encourages a diversity of households and families with a wide range of incomes.”

“We’re proud to see our efforts at bringing new affordable housing to San Francisco pay off,” said Moss. “In our immediate future, Mission Housing will provide quality, 100 percent affordable housing for thousands more people.”

“Our commitment to Balboa Park is for the long term.”

The winning game plan

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Reservoir Park

A 2.2-acre green space, “Reservoir Park” will have direct links to surrounding neighborhoods. Rendering: SF Planning

So far, the winning vision re-purposes the 1,000-space parking lot into a new neighborhood with a 2.2-acre green space at its center. Currently dubbed “Reservoir Park” the green space will have direct links to all the surrounding neighborhoods, to create a welcoming public realm. In total, more than four acres of parks and open spaces are proposed.

The heart of the Balboa Reservoir site is dedicated to walking and biking, with numerous walking routes into and through the site. Pathways will connect to surrounding Ocean Avenue and Westwood Park neighborhoods, and to the City College campus.

Numerous buildings of varied heights will contain townhouses, apartments, and commercial spaces. The developers hope to incorporate as many as 1,100 homes in the plan. A shared 500-slot parking garage — part of more than 12-hundred below grade parking spots included in the proposal — will serve both the City College community and Balboa Reservoir residents.

Other parameters for the development, as stipulated by the Planning Department include:
• an affordable housing target of 50% of units catering to low, moderate, and middle-income households
• collaboration with City College on teacher housing
• inclusion of at least one childcare center

Putting people first

Mission Housing will coordinate the delivery of social services for residents of all income levels throughout the new development, and the entire Balboa Reservoir neighborhood.

“Our extensive experience in cultivating services partnerships will ensure that we can deliver childcare and other benefits that will make this development a great asset to the entire neighborhood,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. “We will be in the unique position of programming all the human elements: social services, the recreation at the parks, and the community-serving nonprofits.”

“The input we get from our outreach will help us design and mold a perfect mix to enhance the quality-of-life for every one of our community stakeholders.”

Engineered for deep sustainability

The Balboa Reservoir team also includes Van Meter Williams Pollack and Pyatok as the master plan architects, ensuring the neighborhood “fit” of the development, and directing a community-based design approach. The master plan architects will oversee other architecture firms that will design individual buildings on the parcel, ensuring an appropriate diversity of styles and ideas in a harmonious master plan.

All aspects of the development’s design will be guided by the principles of the EcoDistrict model, to enhance livability, and to reduce the environmental footprint of Balboa Reservoir for generations to come.

READ MORE: Proposal submitted

READ MORE: Presentation to community groups

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
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