Joining the NeighborWorks network of 240 partners is an important milestone for MEDA. This represents a great accomplishment in our organization’s trajectory and evolution.
I first must acknowledge everyone who stood with us to help MEDA get to this point.
That includes: MEDA Staff; MEDA Board; partners, whether local, statewide and national; funders; elected officials; and, most importantly, our community members.
NeighborWorks America champions a mission to “create opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities.” This perfectly aligns with MEDA’s work since our start in 1973 as an agency bundling small business loans.
Our growth has been steady and incremental, but the last decade saw us scale and mature in previously unthinkable ways.
- We bought our own home, Plaza Adelante, which is now a thriving neighborhood center;
- We became the largest VITA free tax preparation site in the Bay Area;
- We became the backbone agency for the Mission Promise Neighborhood;
- We started and grew a Community Real Estate team, with 1,300 units preserved or produced since only 2014;
- We launched a CDFI, Fondo Adelante, to offer access to capital for those not able to get loans from traditional lenders, including many who were undocumented;
- We built capacity for a dedicated Policy & Advocacy team, and even created a 501(c)(4) organization; and
- By working with our clients on rental assistance, eviction prevention, pre- and post-purchase and foreclosure prevention, we also now have the most extensive housing services team in the San Francisco Bay Area.
We all know that 2020 created unique challenges in our Latino and immigrant community, in San Francisco’s Mission District and elsewhere. Our community is represented by many low-income, essential workers who must work outside the home, and live in overcrowded conditions in multigenerational households.
For those very reasons, we saw a disproportionate amount of COVID-19 positive cases. And, we saw how our community faced very challenging health, housing and economic conditions.
Still, MEDA met — and continues to meet — the moment.
Over the years, we built the infrastructure, partnerships and trust of our community to together face strong challenges, just like we have experienced this past year. Looking ahead, we seek equitable recovery so our families can return to thriving rather than just surviving. Ultimately, all of our work looks to create generational prosperity for underserved communities — something every organization in the NeighborWorks affiliate network strives to achieve.
This is the right time for MEDA to become an affiliate, to help us grow the impact in our neighborhood and strengthen the sector nationwide.
And, we want to contribute to making NeighborWorks even stronger.
In partnership with NeighborWorks and its affiliates, we will prove that “there is strength in numbers.”
MEDA offers a vision of an equitable society, the strategies to get us there and values to guide our behaviors along our journey.
For us, success is measured in two ways: ensuring that low-income Latinos are able to call San Francisco their permanent home; and building the capacity and skills of organizations led by people of color in asset building, backbone organizational infrastructure, affordable housing, CDFIs and policy development. Doing otherwise will lead to conditions we have seen in the past with Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 economic crisis and, now, this pandemic, where communities of color are always most negatively impacted, left behind and dependent on third parties.
We are very excited to partner with NeighborWorks, so they can in turn help us scale our capacity and impact to support the Mission District community and build the next generation of leadership in our sector. Together, we can foster and drive a movement that creates opportunity locally, and in communities of color nationally.
Our staff, Board and community are very grateful and look forward to this partnership with NeighborWorks America.