Ani Rivera in Her Own Words: Organizing to Fight Eviction via Small Sites Program

MEDA just bought its 15th Small Sites Program apartment building, keeping 93 households vulnerable to eviction in place. We have shared in previous Small Sites Progam blogs how these purchases offer a targeted approach to stopping displacement in its  tracks. The strategy is for nonprofits, such as MEDA, to buy four- to 25-unit properties — the types of properties that are the most attractive to speculators.

Last Friday, our 15th building included the apartment home of Ani Rivera, a Mission-Bernal resident. Rivera is also the Executive Director of Galería de la  Raza, a 47-year-old art organization that has provided a transnational artistic platform for the examination and articulation of works that explore new aesthetic possibilities for socially committed art.

As a cultural bearer, by keeping Ani close to her work and in her home we protect the Mission’s cultural and social fabric (aka, creative placekeeping) and we keep those who support the Mission in la Misión.

Ani wrote Facebook posts as she went through this four-month process. Her powerful words to her online community showcased the swirling emotions around the possibility of being displaced from her longtime home — and the joyous feelings when you organize and can then remain in your neighborhood of choice.

We are sharing below these Facebook posts —  which she has generously offered to MEDA —  with the goal to continue a community dialog that offers the perspective of a potentially displaced tenant and what the Small Sites Program’s process feels like to a resident. Ani also wants to offer hope to other Mission renters vulnerable to displacement.

March 4, 2017
When you get home after eight days to find a “Notice of Entry” with the intent to show premises to prospective or actual purchaser or mortgages … way to ruin my Suavecita Souldies party night. Nothing to do but eat chocolate. #shouldistartpacking?

March 21, 2017
When your building is having an open house and folks are talking about all kinds of future plans (e.g., we are going to make another in-law unit, maybe a four-car garage) and on the inside all you can think about is: I still live here … SF, my love, what happened? Where did I go wrong? I still love you.

March 29, 2017
Staying positive in the midst of so much uncertainty. Wherever the wind blows we are going to be OK and, above all, we will continue to resist! Housing is a human right.

April 14, 2017
My great-grandmother always said: “Después de la tormenta llega la calma.” Today, more than ever, I felt those words ring in my ears. Good news: MEDA is in contract with my landlord to purchase my apartment building! The next step: MEDA will conduct inspections to view the building as part of the purchase. Although it is not all said and done, tonight I will sleep well. #nobuyoutisworthourhome #enddisplacement #aquiestamosynonosvamos #protectculturalworkers

April 17, 2017
It feels like we are in a labyrinth. Although i know this is a learning experience, sometimes it feels like I’m walking in the dark not knowing what’s around the corner, but I have to believe. Believe that intentions are good, believe that things are possible, believe that we deserve well, believe that we do this because others will also benefit down the line. Most of all, believe that I’m in the right place at the right time for a reason, and that my hard work will pay off because the universe will never conspire to make us fail. When one door closes, another one will open.

Then there are the practical things I’m learning. Today, MEDA started the first of three inspections needed to close the deal on buying our apartment building. I’ve learned that when we purchase our home, I’ll need to do the following: check the roof, plumbing, electrical. The next steps are the structural engineer and pest inspections. Of course, then there is the bank appraisal! #protectculturalworkers #nobuyoutisworthourhome #housingforall

July 14, 2017
I’m feeling festive and I know I will survive!

Earlier this year we were notified that our building (where I live) was up for sale. As many of you know, news of this nature can be overwhelming and all consuming. For an entire month I was affected with insomnia which shot my stress level through the roof. It was the first time in my adulthood where I felt no control over where I’d end up and how we’d survive the housing crisis. This anxiety galvanized me into action and I knew we’d have to work get every neighbor involved – we were not going to be bought out and we were all determined to save our homes.

Now, four months later, I can proudly say that our hard work paid off. Yesterday, I signed a 22-page lease for our spot. I’m happy to announce that as of today, it is official: MEDA is the new owner of my building!

This means that my Love, neighbors, furry babies and I get to stay in our homes for as long as we want. The building is now part of the permanent below-market-rate housing stock of the city. If we ever choose to leave, the units will go back to someone in need of affordable housing.

My heart is filled with gratitude for all those who listened, guided and supported us through this process. To the folks at MEDA — Karoleen, Johnny and Beatriz — ¡MIL GRACIAS! Words cannot express how much this means to us. You have my personal commitment that I will be a at the front of the line helping others who are experiencing displacement and supporting your work.

Tonight, I will sleep well. Blessings to all …


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