Erick Arguello of the Calle 24 cultural and merchants association places a sticker on a list of policy proposals to indicate his top priority

City staff, nonprofit workers, activists and local residents met at Buena Vista Horace Mann school on Wednesday night to work out the next steps in a joint effort to stem displacement and maintain neighborhood character known as the Mission Action Plan 2020.

The only clear priority that emerged from the gathering, which was divided into groups to help determine priorities, was a desire to stem the flow of displacements and protect those who are still in place.

The plan is a collaborative effort between the city and various neighborhood organizations. The latter requested that city government become involved with local efforts to address a housing and affordability crisis last year.

Several groups agreed that funding the construction of affordable housing was a top priority – but some among them disagreed with the city’s determination of affordability, which is based on how much a household earns compared to the area median income. In San Francisco, median household income is a whopping $78,378 a year.

“We were trying to think about how [affordability] matches income with how much people make, and it’s not accurate,” said resident Raeleen Valle-Brenes.

Others said that even the incremental increases in rent allowed under rent control were a burden, while several groups focused on where to allocate funding called for more innovative ways for the city to accrue money to secure or build housing.

“We do want to spend money on creating innovative funds so the city doesn’t depend on what we called ‘Mr. Development,’” said Iswari España, a Human Services Agency worker and candidate for District 9 Supervisor, speaking for his group.

Many also noted that if and when tenants are pushed out, the bigger problem is that they have nowhere within the city to go – hence the calls for low-income housing and for better education of residents about tenants rights and the availability of services.

Consuela Barragán said her mother is currently being evicted. 

“All the points are good, there’s a need for all of them,” Barragán said later. “But there is so much displacement. Every day more people are leaving, and they don’t have a place to go.”

Chirag Bhakta, of the Mission SRO Collaborative, said some 650 low to moderate income households have left the neighborhood in recent years (a conservative estimate since it draws from census data, which undocumented immigrants might not participate in), and that the Mission saw 239 eviction notices issued in 2013, and 210 in 2014.

“The one thing I want to make clear about the numbers is, these are people,” Bhakta said. “These are families being kicked out of their communities, out of their support structures.”

Hugo Vargas, a teenage SRO resident and one of the youths engaged in the dispute over the soccer field at Mission Playground, said his group found relocation assistance most important for SRO and tenant protections, but compared the plight of evicted tenants to that of priced-out business owners.

“I put it in perspective of seeing local businesses and shops that have been evicted and never come back,” he said. “They’ve literally been bought out of their own place, which sucks.”

Some approaches promoted by the plan have already found their way through the legislature – among them Supervisor Jane Kim’s Eviction 2.0 protections for tenants against evictions for petty offenses, the $310 million housing bond with a $50 million allocation for the Mission specifically, interim controls for the Mission put in place by the Planning Commission.

Advocates have been trying to put pressure on the city to implement approaches like these for several years, particularly in 2015, when Mission activists flooded city hall in protest three times.

After Wednesday’s meeting, city and nonprofit workers will try to distinguish the top priorities from feedback given at the meeting and begin to create a concrete, actionable plan.

“It’s envisioned to be an action oriented document. We don’t want to create a document with lofty goals and policies that would sit on a shelf and not be implemented,” said city planner Claudia Flores.

After the meeting, the mood was hopeful.

“If they give us consideration, yes, it will help a lot,” Barragán said.

“We’ve already won a lot, but we need to continue winning,” remarked Karoleen Feng of the Mission Economic Development Agency.

“This is the way it should have been all along,” said Valle-Brenes. “When there is no community involvement, there is no community engagement.”

A final version of the Mission 2020 Plan is expected to be presented in June or July.

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