Last year, TGI Justice Project was awarded $125,000, also from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, for place making. The money has not been spent yet, however, because Mahogany wants to ensure the community has full input on the matter and that takes time, she said. The money will rollover for use in the next fiscal year.
The ideas for the district range from ensuring equal employment opportunities for trans individuals to establishing a community center. But the biggest concern Mahogany has heard is the need for additional affordable housing. “Finding affordable housing that feels safe to our community is really important,” Mahogany said. “It’s the number one issue for the community. The vast turnover of affordable units into luxury condos and market-rate units has resulted in the eradication of housing specifically for the most vulnerable, low-income population.” She said during the community gatherings, people have expressed a desire for more single-room-occupancy units, rental subsidies, and low-income housing. Sa’id added that those involved in the implementation process, although in its infancy stage, are “working on finding property and rental subsidies. It’s one of their biggest priorities.”
Recently, Mahogany worked with developer Star City, which hopes to receive its final building permit in about a month to begin construction at an existing building at 229 Ellis Street. Mohammed Sakrani, product officer at Star City, said supporting the cultural district is important to the urban development company. “We know it’s important to maintain the diversity of the Tenderloin and have it continue to be a place for the trans community to repair itself and build up a voice,” Sakrani said.
The 55-unit residential space will hire three full-time employees from the trans community who will undergo job training. The positions will be in building operations, resident experience, and maintenance. Star City will also offer free rent to a trans business owner for the only retail space located on the ground floor of the building. An LGBT-oriented display will also reside in the ground floor lobby to honor and inform the public about the transgender history of the Tenderloin. Sakrani plans to commission a trans artist for any artwork included in it. Lastly, the developer will donate $80,000 to the coalition for the implementation of the district once building permits are approved. The building will offer group housing with units that have private bathrooms and bedrooms, but shared kitchen and common spaces. Rents are expected to start at $1,700.
The creation of affordable housing is just one of many priorities for the implementation of the district. Johnson, a 54-year-old black trans woman, said TGI Justice Project is currently looking for a new, larger location in the district that would also serve as a community center for trans folks. The agency is looking for space with at least 3,500 square feet, half of which would be dedicated to the community center to serve as a safe space for trans people to gather, connect to resources, and hold events. The location would also offer all the programs of TGI Justice Project, a nonprofit that works to end human rights abuses against transgender women of color, in and outside of prison.