From the Executive Director
The opening of a new housing development is always a time of joy at RCD. It marks the culmination of what is often years of development and construction, and celebrates the date when residents can finally move into their new homes. RCD’s Los Medanos Village property in Pittsburg completed its first year of operations at the beginning of 2011. Year 1 is an interesting time, when development and operations intersect and the residents make their apartments into homes, creating a new community. We include scenes from Year 1 at Los Medanos Village below.
“I love the community; it’s not just a place to live but a place for kids and parents to enjoy themselves, with the movies and the after school program where I volunteer and my daughter and I both do our homework.”
Kristina Clark, resident of Los Medanos Village
We also describe some of the major improvements under construction at Erna P. Harris Court in Berkeley. RCD converted this former motel to permanent housing in 1995 and is now undertaking an extensive upgrade to the property which will include significant green enhancements. With construction over 50% complete, we’re excited to see how much improved the property will be for the residents when they move back in this summer, and, we're making a difference in conservation of natural resources.
These two examples of our work demonstrate the many benefits of affordable housing to our communities. Thank you for your support in making it possible for us to continue this rewarding and joyful work.
Dan Sawislak, RCD Executive Director
Year 1 at Los Medanos Village
The “village” comes to life as 205 people move into their new homes – one, two, and three bedroom units arranged as flats and 2 story town homes in a seven building complex
Residents under 18 outnumber the adults – 104 kids can bring families together quickly; parent involvement in shaping the community is high and they are most welcome volunteers in the youth programs
The final touches of construction are complete and include handsome perimeter fencing that adds to security and landscaping that creates a lot of outdoor living space – two playgrounds, barbeque areas, a large patio, and a community garden - a beautiful property that greatly increases neighborhood stability through re-use of a long-abandoned site that is within walking distance of local retailers and public transit
Great design and creative marketing helps lease up all the units quickly at a time when rents at the high end of the affordability index (50% of Area Median Income) are competing with market rate housing rents – 3100 applicants vie for 70 units
Property Management staff from The John Stewart Company moves from leasing into operations - getting to know the residents, learning how to maintain the new building systems, improving recycling bin access, nurturing the landscaping, and keeping everything looking and working like new
Several new partners work with RCD to expand free on-site resident services:
- Contra Costa Interfaith Housing (CCIH) provides an after school homework and activities program twice a week and draws 20 or so kids to each session. CCIH also brings in an academic specialist for students who need assessment and individual help. Residents also have access to a case manager who works directly with families to resolve problems that can impact their housing status
- First Place for Youth provides support to the five youth who are in transition from the foster care system to living independently
- Teens from Amigos de las Américas combine community service with learning to work with grade school kids in preparation for the teens’ summer service in Latin America – they run movie night every other Friday night, a popular event that a parent volunteer picks up on the alternate Friday nights
- Computer teacher Brandy Sacks is in the computer room one evening a week to teach adults and the computers are available to all throughout the week
Los Medanos Village receives a GreenPoint Rating of 131 for energy efficiency from solar panels generating 94,187kw of electricity and solar pre-heat for the hot water and space heating; high indoor air quality; use of green materials and conservation of resources; and effective water manage-ment. RCD provided residents with a "Healthy Home Guide" with tips on green cleaning, water and energy conservation, recycling and reusing, and a description of the green building systems and materials used in their new home
In December 2010 Associate Director of Housing Deni Adaniya closes the permanent financing for the development, which ensures that the property will remain affordable for at least the next 55 years. RCD pays off its Wells Fargo construction loan using Multifamily Housing Program funds from the State of California and equity funding from Enterprise Community Partners. A $6.45 million contribution of funds from the City of Pittsburg Redevelopment Agency is a key element of the financing of Los Medanos Village and helped RCD attract other major funding totaling $17.25 million
“The Los Medanos Village project is an example of attractive and high quality affordable living. It’s not only a wonderful place for families to live but having features such as a multi-purpose room, play areas, and a community garden really give it a sense of “community”. We want to provide housing opportunities for our residents and this is one that we are proud to have been a part of.”
Joseph Sbranti, Assistant City Manager / City Engineer, City of Pittsburg
Year 1 at Los Medanos Village closes with all the signs of a healthy, vibrant community just as Governor Brown proposes a budget that eliminates Redevelopment Agencies so that those funds can help cover the state budget shortfall. If enacted, this would have a devastating effect on the construction of affordable housing in California for years to come because redevelopment funds are the largest California source of funding for affordable housing. It's usually among the first moneys committed to a project, assuring other funders and investors of the commitment of the local cities and counties to the success of the project. Redevelopment Agencies generate over $1 billion per year for the creation and preservation of low and moderate income housing. Since 1993, nearly 100,000 housing units have been built with these funds, and the waiting lists for affordable housing continue to grow.
Erna P. Harris Court Goes Green
Early in the design phase of the rehabilitation of Erna P. Harris Court in Berkeley, RCD secured technical assistance through Bay Area LISC to expand our standard Property Needs Assessment (PNA) into an enhanced Green PNA, which incorporated an analysis of energy upgrades, indoor air quality improvements, sustainable material and system choices and long term durability. As a result, the overall scope of work for the rehab includes significant improvements in all these areas. In addition, the new landscaping will offer drought tolerant and native plant selections and a variety of new filtration options that mean Erna P. Harris Court will soon treat 100% of its storm water before it starts its path towards the San Francisco Bay.
Thanks to a grant from Enterprise Community Partners, we now have a pre-rehabilitation building audit so we can compare utility costs and energy consumption as a result of the energy upgrades that we are implementing. This will provide an important new information base for RCD and the green building community.
Save the date for Sparking Connections 2011: Monday, June 6, 2011
Click here for more information and to become a Sponsor;
invitations and tickets willbe available in April
Congratulations to the City of Oakland’s Redevelopment Agency for the 2011 Community Redevelopment Association’s Award of Excellence in recognition of the Uptown Residential Area Development, which includes Fox Courts.
Congratulations as well to architect Daniel Solomon and his team for their Award of Excellence from Berkeley Design Advocates for design of Oxford Plaza.
Our most heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who recently made a donation to underwrite RCD’s work to build homes, community, and futures. Our donors are featured on our website.
We are pleased to announce renewed grant support from JPMorgan Chase Foundation, U.S. Bank, and Heffernan Foundation for our resident services and affordable housing programs. We sincerely appreciate this vital community support!
Welcome to the neighborhood – Groove Yoga has a cool new studio located next door to RCD at 2240 Oxford.