At today’s opening ceremony of a new, 100 percent affordable, 143-unit building, indigenous dancers stepped in rhythm. In a swirl of feathers and to the beat of drums, Xitlalli group dedicated a prayer to what the homes represented: A shield against displacement. 

“Most of us are born and raised in the Mission, and work in the Mission,” one dancer, Carmela, said. “So, to see this come to realization brings so much joy to our hearts.” 

Both Mayor London Breed and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, spoke to the audience about how integral affordable housing was to prevent displacement. Between 2000 and 2019, approximately 9,000 Latinx residents were displaced from the Mission. 

Some cultural institutions were forced to move, too. That’s why Casa Adelante will rent commercial space to three community organizations: Galería  de la Raza, HOMEY SF, and the Felton Institute.

Multiple community members and longtime Mission residents highlighted the importance of preserving these spaces in the neighborhood. Olga Talamante, a Mission and Chicana activist known for her political imprisonment in Argentina in the ’70s and her long leadership of the Chicana/Latina Foundation, said she remembered when the iconic Galería  de la Raza first opened in 1970. Through Chicano art, the organization lent community “struggles … image, voice, and dimension that kept us strong to continue organizing on behalf of our communities.”

Since leaving its longtime home at the corner of 24th and Bryant streets, Galería has shuffled among several spaces in the neighborhood, including a spot on Valencia Street. “The three community-based organizations that will now have permanent space. I want to say that again — permanent space,” Talamante said at the conference. “Hemos llegado a casa. At last, we are here.”

Breed also commended the organizations, and gave a specific shout out to HOMEY. Through the pandemic, HOMEY has tackled food distribution for thousands of Mission families. “Thank you, HOMEY, for being there, not only for our community, but for this community. This is really a dream realized,” Breed said.  

Casa Adelante has a rooftop urban farm, two community rooms, laundry, free internet, and bike parking. The building is owned by both the Mission Economic Development Agency and the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, which will be the property manager and handle onsite social services. 

As is common in affordable housing, many sources funded the project: Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, tax exempt bonds, and investments by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, Bank of America, Federal Home Loan Bank, and others. It cost $106 million total. 

Pelosi thanked President Joe Biden for expanding and investing in affordable programs like housing vouchers, which keep residents here. “It is the public and private partnership that makes this possible,” Pelosi said, before wishing attendees a happy Cinco de Mayo.  

At the ceremony’s end, the politicians did the usual rush to awkwardly cut a giant red ribbon. Right before, Luis Granados, the executive director of MEDA said, “I’m hoping that your role in this particular project is what as you walk by this project in years to come, you are full of pride. And I want to talk to the electeds to see how we’ve built another ten buildings like this in the next five years.”

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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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3 Comments

  1. Is there any data on where the 9000 people were displaced to? The Latino/Hispanic population increased from 15.2% to 15.6% from 2010 to 2020 so it would be useful to know if the outmigration was to the Outer Mission/Excelsior or out of the city entirely.

    1. Millions are being displaced from Central America and other places. I think those figures are more important.

  2. The definition of “affordable” is pegged to what is called Area Median Income, which grows when an area is being gentrified, as the Mission is. This does not in any way mean that actually-poor people have more money to spend on rent, so while the rich get richer, the poor remain poor and out on the street. Until actually-affordable rent is zero, we’ll still have a problem.

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