My name is Karoleen Feng and I lead the Small Sites Program efforts for the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), which is based in San Francisco’s Mission District.
We are today asking that the Board of Supervisors align with D5 Supervisor Preston and reallocate $64 million of Prop I money to re-fund the critical Small Sites Program, as an integral strategy of the City’s COVID-19 equitable recovery efforts.
The pandemic has shown us that affordable and stable housing is more important than ever during a crisis — and this crisis is ongoing for many essential workers in San Francisco. These essential workers have been most negatively impacted by the pandemic, and they need and deserve equitable recovery. They are the residents who call our Small Sites buildings home. These are our seniors, children, teachers, artists, nurses, back-of-house restaurant workers, in-home child care providers.
MEDA with our allies partnered with the City of San Francisco to devise and implement the Small Sites Program, a targeted approach to keep our most-vulnerable neighbors in their longtime homes. Since 2014, MEDA has by far been the major player in Small Sites. We have purchased 33 apartment buildings, mostly in the Mission and Bernal Heights, which were at the heart of gentrification and subsequent displacement in the last five years. This program has kept hundreds of households in place, while also ensuring affordable commercial spaces for family-run businesses and arts & cultural institutions.
MEDA is based in D9, yet over the years supervisors from other districts have come to our nonprofit, asking us to buy four- to 25-unit apartment buildings in their neighborhoods by harnessing the power of the Small Sites Program. These were buildings where the supervisors knew the tenants were vulnerable to eviction and, ultimately, displacement from San Francisco. MEDA is proud to lead these Small Sites efforts across the city. At the same time, we have developed the capacity as a cohort of nonprofits based in the neighborhoods so that they can also purchase Small Sites properties.
We cannot lose the momentum built. MEDA’s Community Real Estate team, and our nonprofit peers, are poised and ready to continue to purchase Small Sites properties — and that takes funding. San Franciscans voted for affordable housing when they passed Prop I in November 2020. We urge the Budget and Finance Committee to reallocate $64 million of Prop I money to re-fund the critical Small Sites Program, as an integral strategy of the City’s COVID-19 equitable recovery efforts.
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