At today’s opening ceremony of a new 143-unit, 100% affordable apartment building, Indigenous dancers took the beat. In a whirlwind of feathers and to the rhythm of drums, Xiuhcoatl Danza Azteca dedicated a prayer to what the houses represented: a guard against displacement.
“Most of us were born and raised in the Mission, and work in the Mission,” said dancer Carmela. “So to see this come true brings so much joy to our hearts.”
Politicians, including Mayor London Breed and Representative Nancy Pelosi, have mentioned how integral affordable housing is to preventing displacement. From 2000 to 2019, approximately 9,000 Latinx residents were displaced from the Mission.
Some cultural institutions have also been forced to relocate. That’s why Casa Adelante will lease commercial space to three community organizations: Galería de la Raza, HOMEY SF and the Felton Institute.
Several community members and long-time residents of Mission have 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 1970s and her long leadership of the Chicana/Latina Foundation, said she remembers the opening of the iconic Galería de la Raza in 1970. Through Chicano art, the organization lent the community “struggles…an image, voice, and dimension that allowed us to continue to organize on behalf of our communities.”
Since leaving her longtime home at the corner of 24th and Bryant streets, Galería has moved to several spaces in the neighborhood, including a location on Valencia Street. . “The three community organizations that will now have a permanent space. I want to say it again – permanent spaceTalamante said at the conference. “Hemos legado at the casa. Finally, we are here.
Breed also praised the services and paid tribute to HOMEY. During the pandemic, HOMEY has tackled the distribution of food for thousands of Mission families. “Thank you, HOMEY, for being here, not just for our community, but for this community. It really is a dream come true,” Breed said.
Casa Adelante has a rooftop urban farm, two community rooms, laundry facilities, free internet, and bicycle parking. The building is jointly owned by the Mission Economic Development Agency and the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, which will be the property manager and manage social services on site.
As is common in affordable housing, many sources funded the project: federal tax credits for low-income housing, tax-exempt bonds, and investments from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the Bank of America, Federal Home Loan Bank and others. It cost $106 million in total.
Pelosi thanked President Joe Biden for expanding and investing in affordable programs like housing vouchers, which retain residents here. “It’s the public and private partnership that makes this possible,” Pelosi said, before wishing attendees a happy Cinco de Mayo.
At the end of the ceremony, the politicians made the usual rush to awkwardly cut a giant red ribbon. Just before, Luis Granados, the Executive Director of MEDA said: “I hope your role in this particular project is what you will go through this project in the years to come, you are full of pride. And I want to talk to elected officials to see how we’ve built ten more buildings like this in the next five years.