”Notes from Buena Vista:” Film about threatened mobile home park provides real examples of affordable housing crisis

Buena Vista
Buena Vista Mobile Home Park residents and board directors (left to right) Maria Martinez, Melodie Cheney, Erika Escalante and Mary Kear with filmmaker Elizabeth Lo (far right) at the Palo Alto premiere showing of Lo’s documentary “Notes from Buena Vista” on May 17, 2016. The land under the Buena Vista park is for sale, threatening one of few pockets of affordable housing in Palo Alto and putting residents at risk of eviction.

Vu-Bang Nguyen

Last week, Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Silicon Valley @ Home held premieres in Palo Alto and San José for “Notes from Buena Vista,” a new film by award-winning director Elizabeth Lo. More than 150 people attended the two screenings, including a sold-out show in Palo Alto that included closing remarks from Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who is featured in the film.

The documentary focuses on the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, a community of 400 residents in Palo Alto that is just two miles from Stanford University. The community is under threat of being dismantled. The land it sits on is currently worth tens of millions in Silicon Valley’s skyrocketing real estate market, and the landowner has put it up for sale. Through a generous grant from a donor to SVCF's building strong communities' grantmaking strategy, the film was made and released in time for Santa Clara County's Affordable Housing Week.

Film-goers who attended the premieres in Palo Alto and San José were able to watch the 30-minute documentary and participate in a panel discussion that included elected officials, affordable housing advocates, and the very Buena Vista residents  who are threatened with eviction.

The documentary provided a rare opportunity to move beyond a theoretical discussion about affordable housing and witness real examples of working families struggling to find housing they can afford.Also in attendance for the San José showing were residents from the Winchester Ranch Mobile Home Park, who are also facing a park closure. Not only were attendees able to hear the amazing stories from the film, they also heard from residents about their experiences and current struggles first-hand.

Additional screenings of “Notes from Buena Vista” have yet to be announced. To find out about future showings, please follow SVCF on Facebook and Twitter (@siliconvalleycf).