The primary goal of MOHCD’s Complete Neighborhoods Program is to provide infrastructure enhancements to those neighborhoods experiencing residential development. The program was originally established as part of Proposition C, an affordable housing bond passed by San Francisco voters in 2011. An excellent example of a recent Complete Neighborhoods project is the playground that was developed for the Chibi Chan Too Preschool at the newly rebuilt Booker T. Washington Community Services Center in the Western Addition.
The new Booker T. Washington center includes 50 affordable homes, 24 of which are dedicated to transitional aged youth (particularly those transitioning out of the foster care system). Along with other services, the community center also hosts and partners with Chibi Chan Preschool, a high-quality, affordable childcare provider also based in the Western Addition. At this site, the preschool is able to serve 36 children and families from the neighborhood. The Complete Neighborhoods Program was able to leverage the residential development at Booker T. Washington to provide these children with a safe, new playground.
Shoshana Kanzaki, the Child Development Department Director at Chibi Chan Preschool, is enthusiastic about the impact of the preschool and its play structure:
“By opening Chibi Chan Too, we have been able to improve the quality of life for low to moderate income families with young children in the Western Addition. This includes the residents of the housing at the Booker T. Washington center, who receive priority enrollment into our school, and other families in the neighborhood. Residents are also able to enjoy the play structure when the preschool is not in session.”
Chibi Chan Preschool is itself a program of the Japanese Community Youth Council (JCYC), which has been serving residents of the neighborhood since 1970. Regina Marsh, the new Executive Director of Booker T. Washington, had this to say about the partnership between the two agencies:
“Our new facility has expanded the reach of this preschool for children from throughout the community. Just today, I was speaking with John Osaki, Executive Director of JCYC, about how our organizations need each other to thrive. The African-American and Japanese-American communities in the Western Addition have been deeply ingrained in each other’s success and in overcoming many of the same obstacles, including discrimination in employment, housing and services. Next year, our two organizations are celebrating major anniversaries: JCYC’s 50th and Booker T. Washington's 100th! With these co-located services, we are excited to be building upon that history and the positive relationships between our communities.”