Ground breaking ceremony for the new affordable senior housing unit on 1296 Shotwell. From the Left to Right: Lorena Melgarejo and Ollinda Orellana (community speakers both from Faith in Action), Kevin Kilbane of Raymond James Tax Credit Fund, Rev. Norman Fong of Chinatown CDC, Karoleen Feng of MEDA, Supervisor Hillary Ronen, Fiona Hsu of Silicon Valley Bank, Kate Hartley, Director of MOHCD. Courtesy: MEDA

Tears and cheers greeted the speakers on June 20 at the groundbreaking ceremony for Casa Adelante–1296 Shotwell, the first, new, 100 percent affordable housing project built in the Mission District in the past decade.

When completed, the nine-story building will provide 94 units of affordable housing, with on-site supportive services: 74 apartments for low-income seniors, 19 for seniors experiencing homelessness, and one for the building manager. The project is a partnership between Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) and Chinatown Community Development Center (Chinatown CDC).

The building is expected to be completed by 2020. It will also have staff offices, four rooftop terraces, landscaped garden courtyards, a spacious community room with a kitchen, 22 bicycle storage spaces, solar hot-water system, a community laundry room, and an enhanced security system.

A projection design of the new affordable senior housing unit that will go up at 1296 Shotwell. Courtesy: MEDA

“Finally, finally, it’s taken a long time to get here. It doesn’t get much better than this,” said District 9 supervisor Hillary Ronen. “It’s very special that this first project is for seniors who have given so much to the community and who deserve to age in dignity and safety.

“Housing should be a human right and we’re hell bent on making it a human right in San Francisco,” Ronen continued. “My goal is 5,000 units in the next decade.”

Olinda Orellana, a community leader and Faith in Action senior advocate who was honored for her 30 years of organizing for affordable housing, said “We deserve to live out our last days with dignity and security. We’ll continue to struggle and bring people together. This isn’t the last affordable project in our neighborhood.”

Six more affordable housing projects in the Mission are currently being evaluated—for a total of 780 units—according to Amy Beinart, a Ronen aide specializing in housing. “Some for seniors, others for families; 20 percent will be set aside for the formerly homeless,” said Beinart, who is also working with MEDA, Mission Housing Development Corporation, Mission Neighborhood Center to find more sites.

After a blessing and dance performance by Danza Azteca Xitalli-Xoloti, MEDA Executive Director Luis Granados reminded the crowd of officials and community members gathered for the occasion that the more than 8,000 Latinos have been forced from their homes in the Mission District since 2000.

“Being on a fixed, low income should not mean being displaced,” Granados said, adding that the project only came about, through “lots and lots of community work. This is how MEDA and the community work, and this is how we will continue to work.”

Funding for the project comes from voter-approved Prop A, the city’s Affordable Housing Fund, and HOME funds from the federal department of Housing and Urban Development. The nine-story building is also the first to seek a density bonus through the city’s Affordable Housing Bonus Program.

“This development makes the city a better place to live,” said Kate Hartley, director of the Mayor’s Office on Housing and Community Development.

Seniors will be able to move into Casa Adelante-1296 Shotwell by spring 2020.