On October 7th, MEDA Executive Director Luis Granados accepted The San Francisco Foundation’s ”Robert C. Kirkwood Award,” made to an individual in recognition of outstanding community service, commitment and inspired leadership.
Granados’ acceptance speech follows . . .
Thank you to The San Francisco Foundation.
I also want to thank my daughter, Anna, and my wife, Joann. Without them, I would not be standing here tonight.
I am grateful for this recognition of MEDA’s work for economic justice for low- and moderate-income families in San Francisco.
I am honored to accept this award on behalf of our hardworking staff and Board at the Mission Economic Development Agency, and especially on behalf of the nearly 6,000 families who come to MEDA every year to find a job, start a business, buy a home or to improve their personal finances, among other things.
For me this work is personal. Until I was 13, my family lived in the border town of Juarez, Mexico. Our home was the way station for my cousins and uncles to cross over to El Paso to work for a few months. When they arrived at our home, they had two hopes: cross the border safely, and find a job–any job.
When they came back from the U.S., there was always a celebration. And with the money they made, they would house and feed their families for the next several months.
My father crossed that border every day to work in restaurants. My mother took care of her kids and made sure to save every penny she could, and when we finally moved to the U.S., within a year my parents bought a modest home, which they still own.
I am blessed to have a loving family who instilled in me a strong set of values, encouraged me to work hard and has always supported me. As a child and young adult, my family also provided me with economic stability, and a permanent home, which made it possible for me to go to college, have my own family and have a career where I spend my day figuring out how to improve the lives of people who are very much like my cousins, uncles and my mother and father.
Today, thousands of families in the Mission District, San Francisco and beyond are like my family. Despite their modest means, they have the hope that their children will be academically successful, and that they, too, will have a good job.
However, things are different and more challenging now. We know that in the Mission:
> 65% of our constituents are living in poverty
> 85% are spending over half of their income on rent
> 77% are fearful or very fearful of eviction
> In the last 10 years, the Latino population in the Mission has decreased by 10,000 people
Clearly, there is still much to do.
At MEDA we BELIEVE that family economic success is the first step to children’s academic success, family health and community stability.
But we also KNOW, that fixing someone’s credit or filing their taxes is not enough.
For that reason, we also BELIEVE that as a RIGHT, people should have ACCESS to housing that is affordable, and to jobs that allow them to support their families with dignity.
Working with you–and with the help and encouragement of partners such as The San Francisco Foundation–MEDA, and I, will continue to do all we can to ensure that low- and moderate-income families in the Mission District, San Francisco and beyond will continue to have the choice to call San Francisco their permanent home.
Thank you very much.”