MNC's executive director Sam Ruiz speaks at a press conference. Photo courtesy of MNC

Change is coming to the Mission for toddlers, preschoolers, senior citizens, and their families, as Mission Neighborhood Centers consolidates two locations — one on Precita Avenue and one at the corner of 24th and Harrison — into one at St. Peter’s Convent. The transition, as well as an expansion of services, is made possible by a recent grant the nonprofit received from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Mission Neighborhood Centers has delivered services to low-income families for more than 50 years. They have had 10 centers throughout the city, where they house Head Start programs and two family resource centers.

The $900,000 Kellogg Grant that MNC recently received will help create the new “Centro de Alegría” at St. Peter’s Convent — a consolidation of the organization’s family resource center on Precita Avenue and its Head Start program on 24th and Harrison. The move will also allow Mission Neighborhood Centers to add a third classroom to its Head Start program, and MNC will keep the Precita location to use for youth programs, according to Director of Operations Maria Bermudez.

With this move, “we’ll be able to support parents more deeply,” said Division Director of Children’s Services, Dolores Terrazas. It will be a “one stop shop” where families can get support — from work skill development to English language development to just feeling less isolated — as well as drop off children for daycare.

“I feel so grateful for the resource center, because it’s empowered me to be the best mom I can be,” said Stephanie Borrego, whose son Emiliano is enrolled in MNC, at a press conference held at MNC’s Bayview center. She said that MNC inspired her to go back to school, and is hoping to transfer to San Francisco State University next fall and get her BA in Health Education.

There is still much to be done before the new “Centro de Alegría” at St. Peter’s can open, however, including construction on the building. Bermudez says that could start as early as October 1st. MNC hopes to be ready to open up the new center by February of 2016.

This frees up the 24th and Harrison lot to work on a project that has been a vision of the executive director, Sam Ruiz, for a decade: building a 36-unit affordable housing project for previously homeless senior citizens.

The plan seems to have been in the works since around 2009, and in May 2014 SF Curbed reported that it was expected to begin construction in late 2014. That did not happen, and Bermudez says the project is currently is in the “pre-development” phase.

“According to our records, there were some project review meetings in 2011 for a potential development, but no applications were actually submitted,” said Candace SooHoo, the Deputy Communications Manager for the San Francisco Planning Department.

One of the biggest hurdles the neighborhood center still has to deal with: raising enough funding.

“We haven’t worked out all the financing,” said Bermudez. She said MNC is considering working with the Mayor’s Office of Housing. The nonprofit is also working with Mercy Housing, which develops affordable housing throughout California, and is considering selling the top four floors of the building to Mercy Housing.

Bermudez said residents would be selected lottery. Most likely, she said, potential residents would need referrals from the Department of Health or other institutions that could verify that they had been previously homeless.

In the meantime, MNC intends to move forward with the Centro de Alegría and begin putting the Kellogg funds to good use.

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