On Being Honored as MEDA’s 2016 "Employee of the Year"

blogby Director of Community Real Estate Karoleen Feng

“My hope is that we can offer hope to our low-income families, so that for generations to come these families can continue to call the Mission their home.”

That statement concluded my acceptance speech when I was honored as 2016 “Employee of the Year” at the Oct. 12 ¡VIVA MEDA! 43rd Anniversary Celebration.

My commitment to MEDA and the Mission began 10 years ago when I joined the Board. When MEDA launched the Mission Promise Neighborhood in 2013, I was inspired to join the staff because of that initiative’s vision of the Mission as a welcoming, inclusive neighborhood.

What started as a promise to our families to rebuild their community capital catapulted into my establishing the Community Real Estate program at MEDA. As the agency began hearing of its clients’ urgent housing needs — through conversations at MEDA’s Plaza Adelante, at community meetings and from Mission Promise Neighborhood surveys — it became clear that my real estate background had taken me to the perfect place and time to tackle affordable-housing issues. The goal: stabilizing the neighborhood for low-income and working-class families, from Latino immigrants to educators who cannot afford to live where they teach.

In just three short years, my team has made the ambitious seem possible, as MEDA seeks to build or preserve 1,000 apartments and 10,000 square feet by 2020 to reverse the trend of displacement to at least 2010 levels. I am proud of the fact that under my leadership, almost 850 units of housing have been or are slated to be preserved and produced in the neighborhood. MEDA has even been awarded a trio of affordable-housing developments: 2060 Folsom, 1990 Folsom and 1296 Shotwell, the latter for seniors.

As Director of MEDA’s 11-person Community Real Estate team, I am shifting the conversation from highlighting the problem to creating change. MEDA has been at the forefront of active discussions for city-community collaboration for land use and policymaking in the Mission, resulting in direct changes to shape the balance of housing affordability and protections in the neighborhood.

MEDA is also addressing displacement head on and pushing forward the City and County of San Francisco’s Small Sites program. By the end of September 2016, MEDA had saved 15 households — home to vulnerable tenants including teachers, artists and seniors — plus a longtime nonprofit arts organization. MEDA expects to save the homes of 30 more residents by year’s end.

We are investing in people’s lives and rebuilding our community. That’s what drives my work.


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