By Oscar Perry Abello.
At 2093 Mission Street in San Francisco, right on the corner of 17th Street, La Mission Market has the look and feel of a neighborhood hub, with fruits and vegetables on outdoor display all day. It’s been part of what makes the Mission District still feel like a home for its remaining immigrant population. A Latina-owned beauty salon is next door. Upstairs are 11 residential units, five occupied by low-income Latino and Filipino families, including some seniors, people with disabilities, and children.
Since the 1940s, the Mission District has been known as a port of entry for multiple waves of immigrants, especially from Latin America. But, since 2000, the Mission has seen thousands of Latino families forced out of the Mission due to rising rents. Many of the businesses they patronized, if they have managed to survive, have struggled against rising commercial rents and higher-paying tenants who cater to the neighborhood’s newer and wealthier residents.
Like many buildings in the Mission over the past few years, 2093 Mission Street was recently purchased. For the buyer, it was their 28th property acquired in and around the Mission since 2013. It was their third property acquired in just the past few months. Like other buyers in the Mission, they’re out to amass as many properties in the neighborhood as they possibly can, especially corner properties along Mission Street. But unlike other buyers of other buildings with low-income tenants or businesses that serve low-income, largely Latino populations, this buyer intends to keep every existing tenant it can, residential or commercial. The buyer was the Mission Economic Development Agency.
Founded in 1973, the nonprofit only got started as an affordable housing developer about four years ago. Its goal: to restore the neighborhood’s largely Latino low- and moderate-income population back to at least 2010 levels—since 2000, the nonprofit found, some 8,000 Latino families have left the Mission due to evictions or rising rents. Along the way, the organization has never lost sight of the small businesses and other nonprofits in the Mission District that made it possible for those families to make a life for themselves in the Mission.
“In some ways it’s in our DNA at [Mission Economic Development Agency] as an organization that’s always been about asset building,” says Karoleen Feng, who became nonprofit’s first director of community real estate in 2013. “In establishing our community real estate department, we were intentional about naming it that because we didn’t think we were just doing affordable housing.”