The Bayview Hunters Point District will launch a resource hub to address the community’s urgent needs for food and housing security, needs that have worsened during the pandemic.
Mission Neighborhood Centers and other city and community partners will run the hub, offering food boxes, housing and support referrals, a Community Learning Hub and possible Covid-19 pop-up testing, the mayor and Mission Neighborhood Centers partners announced Tuesday.
The hub is modeled after the Alabama Street Resource hub in the Mission District, which was founded earlier this year by the Latino Task Force and currently attends to nearly 7,000 families.
The Bayview hub is open and runs Wednesdays and Fridays and will run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1329 Evans Ave.
Starting on Jan. 5, 2021, it will expand to Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the same time and place. Mondays are designated for “health hours,” and Wednesdays and Thursdays for food box distributions, referrals and covid tests. Residents can visit the hub at any time, said Rafael Moreno, the director at the Mission Neighborhood Centers’ Family Resource Centers & Youth Services.
“We know a lot of our families are going through a crisis right now,” Moreno said, describing families who have to navigate back rent, learn healthcare systems to get tested, and who struggle with food insecurity and unemployment.
The hub’s services will support “ the social services and benefits they may be needing in the moment,” Moreno said. “It’s a vision of how we can continue to provide this work as a community.” It can service up to 900 individuals weekly.
Mayor London Breed funded the $300,000 hub from the $28.5 million pot she announced in late September to support the Latinx community during the pandemic. While the Mayor’s Office issued a press release detailing how $22.5 million of it would be spent, the release did not explicitly state where in the budget that was coming from but did state “the initial funding will come from a variety of sources both public and private,” which has caused questions in the past.
A response from the Office of Economic Workforce and Development clarified that these funds for the $28.5 million come from other than citywide department general funds, much of which was originally allocated for contact tracing or food assistance. General funds can come from “a variety of sources including property tax, business tax, hotel room tax, parking tax, property transfer tax, cannabis tax, stadium admissions tax, fines and forfeitures , etc.” and other residential taxes a year.
The learning hub will be part of a citywide Community Hubs Initiative designed by the city and supported by various partners to support cohorts of disadvantaged and high-needs students with online learning. It will open Jan. 5 and run from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Moreno told Mission Local. It is expected to enroll up to 14 students, a spokesman said.
Virtual instruction has especially affected Black and Brown students . Many have poor internet connection, insufficient space, or other responsibilities, such as working or caretaking.
“This year has been really hard for our city’s kids, which is why I’m excited,” Mayor London Breed said. “The hub will provide a safe place for kids to participate in distance learning with Internet access and the technology that they need throughout our city’s response to commit.”
The Bayview has consistently reported San Francisco’s highest covid case rate during the pandemic, city data shows. Covid health and economic effects have exacerbated pre-existing inequities in the historically African-American and underserved neighborhood.
And lately, more Latinx residents have moved there, now comprising 22 percent of the district’s population, said district supervisor Shamann Walton.
“I want to thank Sam for understanding the diaspora of the Latino community in Bayview Hunters Point and for working to make sure that we do everything we can to serve our entire district,” Walton said, referring to Santiago “Sam” Ruiz, CEO of Mission Neighborhood Centers.
Latinx have been hit the hardest during the pandemic and comprise 45 percent of citywide Covid-19 cases despite making up only 15 percent of San Francisco’s population; this hub is one way the city is responding to that.
“We need to make sure that all of our services are culturally responsive, that people speak the language of folks that we are serving in our community and this central hub is allowing us to do that,” Walton said.
A big question is how many residents will seek out these services. Nervous commenters on the virtual press conference had specific questions regarding undocumented residents who might defer assistance due to “intimidating” police presence. Walton said he had not heard these concerns that may dissuade those from going to food lines, but said that he would look into it.
Still, help was required to break barriers from a health lens, Breed said. Though the first San Francisco vaccine was administered today, some from the African American community may be skeptical in taking a Covid-19 vaccine because of historical mistreatment, like the Tuskegee experiment. Meanwhile, African Americans are dying disproportionately from the virus.
And, a recent USCF testing effort in Mendell Plaza supported by Mission Neighborhood Centers had a low turnout of Bayview residents, which some community leaders attributed to a need for more community-based outreach.
Established relationships could be key to incentivizing people to come out, which is why enlisting other partners, like the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, which will be aiding the hub’s operation, could be beneficial, community leaders suggested.
“These families trust us,” said the Good Samaritan’s executive director Mario Paz. “It’s taking multiple villages to come together and to pool all the resources to help the vulnerable community.”
The new Mission Neighborhood Centers hub is a version of the grassroots Resource Hub on 701 Alabama St. The Office of Economic Workforce and Development and the Department of Public Health have promised $3.2 million in funding for resource hubs in underserved communities of Excelsior and the Bayview and have already been funding the Mission’s resource hub.
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“I want to express deep gratitude,” Ruiz said. “City leaders and department heads moved in such an expeditious way to make this hub a possibility.”
This story was updated on Dec. 16, 2020 to clarify language and add an updated response from the Office of Economic Workforce and Development and an updated figure from the hub dictating how many people it can service weekly.