Interview with Marcia Contreras, Deputy Executive Director of Mission Housing Development Corporation
Record unemployment and other economic challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have made it even more challenging for many Americans to make ends meet. According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey conducted in July, more than 25.3% adults in the U.S. either missed the previous month’s rent or mortgage payment, or have little to no confidence that they can pay next month’s payment on time. Many of these residents are struggling in what were already challenging housing markets pre-COVID, like New York and San Francisco. One group working to ensure access to affordable housing in San Francisco is the Mission Housing Development Corporation.
Mission Housing is a nonprofit, community-based organization creating and preserving high-quality affordable housing, and providing supportive services for residents of low and moderate incomes in the Mission District and throughout San Francisco. For almost five decades, Mission Housing has created and preserved quality affordable housing, and pioneered innovative, award-winning housing developments that define the personality of the Mission District. Mission Housing is one of the largest nonprofit housing organizations in San Francisco, owning or managing 35 buildings. The organization currently serves some 3,000 residents in 1,600 units. One thousand additional 100-percent affordable rental units are being developed.
We sat down with Mission Housing’s Deputy Executive Director, Marcia Contreras, to learn how her team is helping to shelter, support and empower their residents through unprecedented times.
How are you helping your clients in this challenging time?
During these times, our team feels proud to be a part of an organization that has gone far beyond its duties and responsibilities in providing guidance and assistance to the communities we serve. Knowing there is the possibility of contracting an unseen virus, our MHDC response team continues to provide outreach to our most vulnerable residents within our community to ensure everyone remains safe and healthy.
The Mission Housing staff has been working closely with our community partners to help keep providing as many services and resources as possible so our residents can continuously receive what they need during these challenging times.
Our Asset Management team continues to support residents and commercial tenants as they navigate the uncertainties of dealing with the impact of COVID-19.
Our Housing Development team is focused on the completion of our new development and rehab projects in a safe manner, bringing new, affordable housing opportunities to our communities.
The Resident Services Department has been providing an array of services and resources such as a community food pantry, frozen and hot meal home delivery, produce boxes and SF Eat vouchers. They’ve also been offering rent payment and home energy assistance, case management, help enrolling residents in the payee system and alternative housing services. The department has also provided COVID-19 safety and health guidelines and referrals, in-home support, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, and safety and health protocol education.
Our administrative team is working tirelessly to ensure the safety and health of our team. As of today, we are very happy to report that all of our team is healthy.
(Photo Credit: Mabel Jimenez, El Tecolote)
How can others in the Boston Private community help you right now?
Providing financial support in the form of philanthropic grants to address the economic impact, and food and medical needs in our community, would be a great help. You can donate at MHResponds.com. Also, important to us, is being able to financially support the local organizations and nonprofits whose workers are on the front line assisting community members impacted by this pandemic.
Although it is critical to support the most vulnerable population – our senior community – particularly with food services, it is also a reality that there are concerns about volunteering under these circumstances. However, volunteering time to secure food for community food pantries is an alternative and always welcome way to support this population.
Another way the Boston Private community can help is to reach out to small business owners to help them sustain their businesses. Small businesses are the ones deeply affected by the pandemic. They are an essential partner in the growth of communities in that they provide employment to the residents within their area.
What has your experience been like working with Boston Private?
Mission Housing has had an excellent experience with our Boston Private associates, especially during these unprecedented times. Our partners within Boston Private reached out to our Controller personally to share important information about the SBA loan program that can help small businesses to sustain their workforce. In addition, Boston Private’s banking management team has been instrumental in assisting my team to navigate challenging situations by providing us with tools and resources in order for us to resume operations during the city’s shelter-in-place order.
What’s one lesson you’ve learned throughout this crisis?
Adapt and adjust. The capacity to adapt and adjust to a new normal, a new work environment and new challenges is a lesson that we all will use forever and will also help us excel as other adversities and challenges arise. Never take for granted what we all have, which is our health!