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Resources for Community Development E-Newsletter

Winter 2010


Celebrating the Arbors

Homes for seniors in Martinez

Ashland Family Housing

Ambassador moves forward

Shinsei Gardens featured in AHF

Computers aid job hunting

The importance of reading

Donors affirm our mission

Save the dates

From the Executive Director

2009 was RCD’s biggest year ever for bringing affordable housing on line. Over the course of the year, we completed 322 units in cities throughout the East Bay. These included the stunning and green Shinsei Gardens in Alameda, family apartments at Fox Courts in Uptown Oakland and Oxford Plaza in downtown Berkeley, and the preservation of The Arbors in Richmond. In December we also opened Los Medanos Village, a beautiful affordable family development in Pittsburg.

We are very pleased to provide much needed housing during a time when so many people need the security that affordable housing can provide. We, and the residents of our new developments, were fortunate that these developments were well advanced before the full impacts of the economic downturn hit. Timing worked to our advantage in 2009!  I am proud of RCD’s work in completing some of our best projects in such turbulent times, representing great growth in organizational capacity. 

In 2010 we are experiencing more uncertainty as financing for affordable housing development becomes scarce. We will need to make good and hard decisions as the environment continues to change. I know the experience gained from our last round of projects will help us as navigate the current difficult climate. And, I am confident that RCD will continue to meet our mission of creating and preserving affordable housing for people with the fewest options, albeit at a somewhat slower pace than we achieved in 2009!

As always, thank you for all of your support of RCD. Your partnership is key to our success, and we appreciate it greatly! 

Save the Dates
We hope to see you!

Opening Doors to Homes, a walk for affordable housing from Villa Vasconcellos to Heather Farm in Walnut Creek
Saturday, April 17, 2010; registration at 9 am

Los Medanos Village Grand Opening, Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 3:00 pm

Sparking Connections: Up on the Roof, our anniversary event at Oxford Plaza in Berkeley
Monday, June 7, 2010, 5:30 pm

Shinsei Gardens is profiled in Affordable Housing Finance. Read the full article [PDF] to understand why it is our most green property and will soon be the first multi-family housing in the East Bay to receive LEED Platinum certification.

We are pleased to announce a grant from JPMorgan Chase Foundation to support our housing development and resident services programs. 

Program support in 2010 is provided by:

Branagh, Inc.

Cahill Contractors, Inc. Enterprise Community Partners

Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

Heffernan Foundation

JPMorgan Chase Foundation

The San Francisco Foundation

Segue Construction, Inc.

Sun Light & Power

Union Bank

Dan Sawislak, RCD Executive Director

Housing Development

Speakers and guests at The Arbors grand opening proved how important each partner is in creating what Stephanie Forbes, executive director of Bay Area LISC, a major investor in the acquisition of the property, called, “a little crown jewel in this corner of Richmond.”

The Arbors

The new community building at The Arbors                             Photo: Theodor Rzad – DIGITED IMAGE COMPANY

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin lauded the preservation project for incorporating two city priorities. The preservation of the housing itself and the addition of a new community building and resident services incorporate the goal of community empowerment. And that it is also now a very green, sustainable property that includes renewable energy helps the city meet important commitments to renewable energy and green jobs.

The City of Richmond and the Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency were major partners in The Arbors, providing a total of $3.2 million. As Patrick Lynch, housing director for the Redevelopment Agency noted, it takes years for the city to put together the layers of funding to support a project at this level. Staff from his agency as well as the Planning Department worked hard to assemble the funds and then prepare and execute the documents that eventually provided the funds that resulted in housing that the Mayor believes shows what Richmond can do.

According to Matt Schwartz, president of California Housing Partnership, The Arbors is a success story that shows how an experienced nonprofit housing developer can overcome many obstacles to transform older HUD-assisted housing into healthier green housing that will remain affordable for future generations of low income Californians. "There are more than 2300 of these older HUD-assisted properties in California about half of which are reaching the end of their affordability protections in the next five years. 

  The Arbors

New walkways, fencing, lighting, and land-scaping connect the 10 apartment buildings photo: Theodor Rzad–DIGITED IMAGE COMPANY

"Already more than ten percent of them have been converted to market rate housing. More will be lost soon if we don't learn from the past and develop new tools and programs to help organizations like RCD preserve this precious resource in our communities. We have used the lessons of The Arbors to contribute to new federal legislation that will help preserve the affordability of these properties. We expect House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank to introduce this Arbors-inspired preservation bill in the coming months.” 

The financial investments of Richmond, Citi Community Capital, and Union Bank have impacts beyond The Arbors, providing over $11 million in construction work in the local economy. Michele McGeoy of Solar Richmond described how important the training and jobs were to the Richmond residents who worked with Sun Light & Power to install the solar panel system. The work at The Arbors was the culmination of construction job training through RichmondBUILD that included additional training in solar installation as well as this on-the-job training. In fact, four graduates of the program worked for general contractor Branagh, Inc. as apprentice carpenters and general laborers.  Other graduates have been hired by Sun Light & Power, a wholehearted supporter of this effective workforce training that was a source of some great employees.

Jonathan Klein, vice president of Union Bank, noted that the bank, “is focused on the impact that affordable housing like The Arbors has on the residents. Studies show that education results and health outcomes are better for families in affordable housing.  Kids do better in school because their families are not on the move trying to find a place where they can afford to live.  Residents are healthier because the quality of the housing is better so, for example, there are lower incidents of asthma. The bricks and mortar are important.  But affordable housing like The Arbors makes lasting impacts on the residents beyond just shelter alone.” 


Berresella Palms


RCD received final approval and entitlements from the City of Martinez for Berrellesa Palms, 49 units of affordable housing for seniors. With lush landscaping and sidewalks along the street and underground parking, the design by KTGY Group, Inc. is inspired by local architecture to enhance the pedestrian friendly downtown neighborhood.

The Alameda County Redevelopment Agency selected RCD to develop family housing on a site in unincorporated Ashland, near the San Lorenzo border. Ashland Family Housing will have approximately 75 units and residents will benefit from the county’s Ashland Youth Campus, planned for a site adjacent to the housing, which will offer comprehensive youth services.


The Ambassador

The Ambassador is a new 69 unit multi-family property, designed by Kava Massih Architects, that will occupy the site of the former Ambassador Laundry, a dense urban infill location in Emeryville. It will be comprised of three buildings consisting of 4 studios, 17 one-bedroom, 23 two-bedroom, and 24 three-bedroom units. Surrounded by lush landscape and a greatly enhanced streetscape on the Peralta Street side, the building’s exterior design engages the neighborhood. The two smaller buildings on the east side of the property along Adeline Street will be lower-density town home units of two- and three-stories with pitched roofs, to reflect the residential nature of the nearby streetscape.

Resident Services

Funding from the Heffernan Foundation is supporting weekly Computer & Employment Skills-Building Classes at Fox Courts in Oakland. Residents will develop an individual learning plan with goals and objectives tailored to their needs. Meeting two hours a week, the classes will offer the basics of Microsoft Office and internet and email use, plus individualized instruction in resume building, internet employment search, and completing online applications. This program for adults is the pilot for programs we will have in place soon at International and Northgate Apartments in Oakland, as well as at The Arbors in Richmond and Los Medanos Village in Pittsburg. Thanks again to the donors who help make this possible!

Lakeside KidsPre-school and elementary aged children at Lakeside came with their parents to hear guest speaker Sally Smith, Monument Community Partnership (MCP) Children's Literacy Facilitator, on the topic of helping children improve their language and reading skills. Parents were encouraged to sit and patiently listen to their children read for 15–20 minutes per day and watch as their children’s reading levels improve significantly over the next year. Parents of pre-school aged children were also invited to join a weekly reading program at Lakeside facilitated by MCP’s terrific volunteer, Susan Lawson.

Tom Mackey won the getaway weekend
at the Lodgepole Pine House!

There is strength in numbers and we sincerely appreciate
the outpouring of support for our 2009-2010 Annual Campaign
that supports our work in 2010. Many thanks to all!

Armando Vasquez Architecture & Construction Management • Scott Barshay and Rachel Penn • Anne Bernstein • Lauren Brewer Development Services • Castle Creek Company • Chevron Humankind • John and Jane Dang • William Derade • Cynthia Doll • Liz Eckstein and Thom Sullivan • Jack Gardner and Candy Rupp • Ursula Garrett • Artise Hardy • Henry Hilken and Cynthia Allman • Hill Associates • Fred and Susan Holmes • Janet Howley • Bonnie and Lee Jameson • Rick Judd and Linda Agerter • Jacque Keller and Jerry Mitchell • Alicia Klein and Kellee Fong • Aubra Levine & Friends • Luk & Associates • Barbara and Tom Mackey • Linda and Paul Mackey • Richard Mandel • Maryann Leshin • Neil Mayer • Tommie Mayfield • Robin Miller and Dan Rossi • Judy and Roy Nakadegawa • Okamoto & Saijo Architecture • Oliver & Company • Bob Oxenburgh • Shauna Porteus and Maria Chang • Anna and Martin Rabkin • Rob Rich • Ritchie Commercial Inc. • Trice and Ed Roberts • Salazar Architects Studio • Brian Saliman • Dan Sawislak and Sally Hindman • Karen Sawislak • Toby and Richard Sawislak • Robert Seelig • Seifel Consulting • Richard Shapiro • Tily Shue • Judith Simmons • James Slaggert • Stuart Stoller and Novella Smith • Patricia and Peter Sussman • Anne Torney • Kathy Treggiari • Mike Williams • Ned York • Sally Zwiebach

Please consider a small monthly pledge – it adds up to more opportunities for affordable homes and services that revitalize our communities.


Comments or suggestions: contactrcd@rcdev.org

© 2010 Resources for Community Development
2730 Telegraph Avenue • Berkeley, CA 94705
Phone: (510) 841-4410 • Fax: (510) 548-3502