On the north face of Casa Adelante, a 60-foot mural depicts Chicana artist Yolanda López next to the words “Basta Ya!” — “Enough already!” The phrase represents the Mission spirit of political activism, much which has been concentrated on gaining affordable housing and anti-displacement Latinx residents.
On Thursday, a multitude of politicians and community nonprofits gathered again to snap a red ribbon and officially open the first 100-percent-affordable, 100-percent-electric housing project at 2060 Folsom St. But the building, which reserves 126 deeply affordable homes for families and transitional-aged youth, took decades of work.
Thus, the ceremonial speeches included a lot of remembering. Luis Granados, chief executive officer of the Mission Economic Development Agency, recalled when the site was a Public Utilities Commission parking lot. “For a lot of us, [the vision] began in 1999 and 2000,” Granados said.
In 2000, five community-based organizations formed the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition to ensure the Northeast Mission, which was mostly an industrial zone, could become housing for working-class residents. The community identified the parking lot for affordable housing and a park. In 2008, that parking lot conversion was approved under the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, a land-use plan for neighborhoods like the Mission.
“When we first conceptualized this building, we were a neighborhood in transition,” said Karoleen Feng, MEDA’s director of community real estate. From the 2000s to 2020, at least 8,000 Latinx families have been displaced and priced out of the neighborhood.
Meanwhile, PODER SF took the lead on converting part of the parking lot into what’s now In Chan Kaajal Park, said PODER’s executive director, Antonio Diaz. In 2010, Alicia Briceño, Aracely Lara, Miriam Zamora and Maria Aviles, also PODER promotoras, advocated. By 2012, the Parks and Recreation Commission had approved it.
“The vision was to be able to help low-income families,” Aviles told Mission Local in Spanish. “I’ve thought a lot about the people getting displaced,” Lara added in Spanish.
The Latinas viewed the project as a huge win, but declared the fight for affordable housing unfinished. “Don’t let the mayor come just to cut the ribbon,” Briceño said in her speech. “Work with us” to build more affordable housing.
Thanks to that effort, Casa Adelante was constructed and tenants earning between 40 and 60 percent of the area median income moved in in 2020. Of the units, 22 studios and 15 one-bedrooms are reserved for transitional-aged youth, and 47 two-bedrooms and 42 three-bedrooms are for families. A resident manager unit and units for childcare comprise the remaining three units.
Resident Sharee Adriazola, who is Filipina and Black, teared up during her speech and said the project enabled her and her Peruvian son stability in a community that embraces and “energizes” them. Her son befriends kids daily at In Chan Kajaal Park, which Adriazola calls “our yard” for its proximity to her apartment. “The work you’ve put in has made a huge difference,” Adriazola said to the project developers.
Chinatown Community Development Center, which partnered early on as a co-developer on the project, signifies the solidarity between the Latinx and Chinese communities, said executive director Malcolm Yeung. “It’s incredibly gratifying,” he said. He promised the organization’s “intention” was to eventually hand off its property management duties to MEDA, so the building is overseen by a Mission organization.
Additionally, a coffee shop and four community groups, including PODER SF, spoken word poetry organization Youth Speaks, youth photography nonprofit First Exposures, and Good Samaritan, will inhabit the ground floor spaces. The focus on youth organizations is because they are the future, leaders said; to demonstrate that, Zoe Dorado, the 2021 Alameda County Youth poet laureate and a Filipina, celebrated Casa Adelante’s opening with a resonant poem about minority resilience against violence.
The building was financed by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, US Bank, the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities, and the Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program.
During her speech, Supervisor Hillary Ronen said Casa Adelante is proof that when the community has each other’s backs, results happen. Every time she sees Yolanda López’s face, “I remember when PODER had this dream.”