Vecinos de Mission Trails formed after the City of San Antonio voted to rezone Mission Trails Mobile Home Community, forcibly removing almost 300 residents from their home of decades in what was the largest residential displacement since the creation of Hemisfair Park in the 1960s. Mission Trails was located on the Southeast side of San Antonio, an area historically excluded from rehabilitation efforts and improvements. It is in this area that the City of San Antonio and Bexar County partnered to expand the San Antonio Riverwalk south of downtown in a project called the Mission Reach. This project reflects efforts to redevelop San Antonio’s downtown so as to attract new “creative class” residents, and at the same time has anticipated UNESCO’s designation of the San Antonio missions as a world historical site. Mission Trails residents have been one of the early casualties of these developments.
Within this broader context, Vecinos de Mission Trail works to 1) provide support to the displaced residents of Mission Trails; 2) fully document the history and impacts of their displacement; 3) complete research and education efforts on the root causes of gentrification and its policy alternatives; 4) engage existing Mission Reach residents vulnerable to future displacement in building Comités de Defensa del Barrio. The long-term purpose of the comités is to understand and reclaim human rights on a neighborhood level, and to create alternative economies based on cooperation and mutual aid, through which people can address needs which are currently going unmet.
Through all of these activities, Vecinos intends to reframe public discussions away from “development” and toward the protection of human rights and the commons, including the rights of mother earth.