"Queeroes" is the latest mural to take place at the LGBTQ Center on Market Street. It's part of a rotating series, and will stay up for a year. Artists Simon Malvaez, left, and Manuel Carmona, right, complete the finishing touches. Photo taken by Annika Hom, May 19, 2021.

A new recovery and homelessness site hums on Valencia

Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Rafael Mandelman unveiled a new center for those experiencing homelessness, mental health disorders and substance abuse on 1156 Valencia St. The center, Hummingbird Valencia, will have up to 30 overnight beds and 20 drop-in daytime slots at full capacity. 

A handful of guests are already staying there, though occupancy is expected to expand to about 26 beds by the end of June. The site aims to connect residents to some of the city’s social services and recovery programs, and follows the lead of Hummingbird Portero, which has served over 1,000 individuals overnight, and 12,000 during daytime hours. Other groups, like the Department of Public Health, Tipping Point Community, the Salvation Army and Positive Resource Center/Baker Places played a part in finally letting this hummingbird spread its wings and fly. 

When you want something done, do it yourself?

Reducing traffic speeds on Shotwell has gotten off to a slow start. While residents continue to bicker about whether the city-designated Slow Street signs actually make cars slow down, a group of neighbors and families went full speed ahead and crafted their own signs to get the job done. 

Now you’ll see a rainbow, a sign with the word “SLOW” painted down it vertically, and a sparkly cartoonish-style flower interspersed along intersections south of 20th. Are they helpful? Harmful? Or just extra obstacles added to signs that may or may not accomplish its goal? One resident tells me that cars just plow through the streets anyway, destroying “some beautiful planters” deposited near these signs in their wake. 

A floral shaped Slow Street sign bequeathed by neighbors sits next to a city-designated Slow Streets sign in purple. Photo by Annika Hom, May 20th, 2021.

fnnch’s honey bears squeezed out for “Queeroes”

If you couldn’t bear to see fnnch on the LGBTQ center, you’re in luck. The coveted street art destination at 1800 Market St. has moved on to the next mural in its rotating series, featuring the silhouettes of local and historical queer heroes called “Queeroes.” 

The homage was dreamt up by Latinx and queer artists Manuel Carmona and Simon Malvaez, who expect to finish up in a few days and a few weeks before San Francisco Pride. Originally, it was meant to depict a Mexican soldier and an American soldier kissing, to represent Carmona’s heritage and gay love.  Ultimately, the concept wasn’t warmly received — members of the center felt it wasn’t as reflective of the diverse community as it could be — so the artists pivoted to the current masterpiece. Among the notorious figures are James Baldwin and Frida Kahlo, and local favorites like Harvey Milk, Juanita More!, Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and Honey Mahogany. “There’s a lot of people who don’t know who these people are. This mural invites people to get close and ask,” Carmona said.

#affordablehousingmonth

Apparently, May is Affordable Housing Month. (It has a hashtag and everything!) 

Maybe that’s why, all of a sudden, several cheap housing options are making progress. Here are two projects that are trending this week. 

Documented by a slightly awkward photo-op of shoveling dirt, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Rafael Mandelman broke ground on an 100 percent affordable housing complex in Diamond Heights this week. Eight homes will be up for purchase at the building at 36 Amber Dr., thanks to the first-ever affordable housing and city-sponsored partnership between the city and the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity. The project begins construction in late May, and opens up to the market this coming September. 

And, the San Francisco Business Times reported that Keystone Group LLC submitted plans to convert a site in the Castro into 70 units of housing, 10 of which are affordable. The group wants to construct an eight-story building on 2140 Market St., the site of the now-shuttered dive bar Lucky 13, and the two adjacent properties. 

Housekeeping: what I’m reading 

Lauren Hepler’s Chronicle piece, “One of San Francisco’s last big homeless camps has been taken down,” raises important questions about homeless encampments that have affixed themselves more permanently to the cityscape during the pandemic, and may now be cleared. 

In case you missed it, Oaklandside’s Natalie Orenstein reported a thorough deep-dive into how “upzoning” and “downzoning” policies in the East Bay have harmed Black residents there and shaped current housing issues. This piece is especially notable for its equity and community focused angle, and for contextualizing decades of history in order to illuminate current issues Oakland is facing. 

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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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2 Comments

  1. I live right by Shotwell/23rd St. and frankly this Slow St. is not used AT ALL by bike riders or walkers the way I have seen in other neighborhoods. There’s no point to keeping cars off the street if only a tiny portion of the residents want it to be a “Slow St.”
    Just let it be how it was.

  2. Definitely a big fan of the handmade signs on Shotwell. And I see a lot of people walking and biking on it, far more than before the pandemic. Not quite as many as Page or Sanchez, but they’re the only streets I know that are more successful.

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