The objective of our neighborhood organizing and advocacy activities is to proactively influence public or private policies and practices that affect SOMCAN’s constituents. We provide leadership training, popular education, and other tools for community members and residents to organize and advocate for themselves.
We do this for the long-term well-being of our community. It's through active participation in the City's policy-making decisions that SoMa will thrive.
Since its inception in 2000, SOMCAN has built an organizing base in the South of Market that is allied with City-wide organizations resulting in major wins for low-income, communities of color. Today, we have grown to become one of the most powerful organizing forces in San Francisco.
Youth Organizing Home and Neighborhood Action (YOHANA)
SOMCAN’s Youth Organizing Home and Neighborhood Action (YOHANA) program is a year-round multi-cultural program led by low-income, immigrant youth who care about their communities and want to make sustainable changes.
YOHANA offers a safe, culturally-competent, and democratic space for young people ages 14–18 to gain valuable leadership skills, identify issues in their community, and take action to achieve healthy and equitable neighborhoods.
The program includes:
The “Land is Life” summer internship, which explores issues of environmental inequities;
Arts-based outreach, including writing, visual art, and music with the use of SOMCAN's recording booth;
Participatory training and support;
Public speaking and civic engagement;
One-to-one and peer mentorship
SOMCAN's services are available in English, Spanish, and Tagalog by appointment only.
To make an appointment in English, call (415) 255-7693
Para una cita de Español, llame (415) 552-5633
Upang gumawa ng appointment sa Tagalog, tumawag ng (415) 552-5637
United Families / unidas familias Program
SOMCAN’s United Families / Familias Unidas provides supportive services that allow for personal enrichment and development to help working-class families better their lives and avoid isolation when faced with everyday challenges. We provide culturally-competent services to immigrant families by helping them navigate the different available resources and services available to them.
We also convene a safe, fun, and supportive meeting space for parents. These regular meetings and/or workshops connect families with their neighbors, inform parents about different activities and events around San Francisco, and provide educational on issues such as bullying, financial literacy, and immigration.
Our Family program provides:
School support such as school enrollment and resources like uniforms and school supplies (qualified income requirement of SFUSD)
Affordable housing search and referrals;
Support to apply for general assistance and Healthy SF;
Strengthening Families sessions (with the Department of Public Health and Youth Leadership Institute)
Mental health service referrals;
Language support in Tagalog, Spanish and English, such as translation for appointments;
Social activities and cultural celebrations; and
Tenant Counseling Program
With the eviction and housing affordability crisis hitting San Francisco hard, it’s tough out there for tenants. SOMCAN provides advice on basic tenant rights and referrals to tenant lawyers and other critical resources.
Our Tenant Program provides help with:
Getting your landlord to repair your unit;
Advice on fair housing and discrimination.
Workforce Development Program
With San Francisco leading the country in the growing inequality between rich and poor, it's critical that our community has access to quality jobs.
Our Workforce Development Program helps with:
Creating or updating resumes;
Job search and application;
Understanding your worker rights;
Advice about discrimination at work;
Referrals to free or low-cost legal services
Youth and Family Special Use District
With San Francisco having the smallest population of children of any American city, there has been much research, discussions and policy recommendations about how to retain and attract children, youth and their families, including grandparents and seniors, to our City. There is broad consensus about dealing with the main issues of concern for San Francisco families, namely: affordable housing, the high cost of living, quality of public schools, parks and recreational opportunities and connections to family-friendly services and information.
Following years of participatory community planning and successful organizing and advocacy efforts led by SOMCAN in coalition with other organizations, on January 19, 2009 the City and County of San Francisco adopted the SOMA Youth and Family Special Use District (SUD). The Youth and Family SUD was adopted as part of the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, which changed the zoning for the entire eastern side of San Francisco, including the South of Market, Mission and Potrero Hill Districts.
The SOMA Youth and Family SUD is referenced by the Planning Commission when considering approvals for developments in the SUD, which includes an area just past 4th Street to past 7th Street, past Natoma to Harrison. The SUD establishes a vision for how the 12 block area should grow over the next 15-30 years.
The goals of the SUD includes:
the provision of affordable housing;
protecting and enhancing the health and environment of youth and families by encouraging uses that support their livelihoods, such as employment, workforce development, small businesses, open spaces, community-based organizations, schools, public transit, and pedestrian safety.
SOMCAN and its partners are working to strengthen the legislation language and expand the boundaries of the SOMA Youth and Family SUD.
Central SOMA Plan
In April of 2013, the Planning Department published the Draft Central Corridor Plan. This Plan attempts to accomplish the following five goals for the central part of SOMA:
Support transit-oriented growth, particularly workplace growth, in the Central Corridor Area.
Shape the area’s urban form recognizing both city and neighborhood contexts.
Maintain the area’s vibrant economic and physical diversity.
Support growth with improved streets, additional open space, and other elements of "complete communities".
Create a model of sustainable growth.
However, without culturally-competent outreach, discussion and input from the low-income, immigrant, and people-of-color SOMA residents, this plan will not have a positive impact to the most vulnerable populations and longtime residents.
SOMCAN and its partners are working with the City Planning Department to strengthen the area plan to address the needs of our members, and the most vulnerable populations in SOMA.