From the Executive Director
June 6, 5:30 pm
Download an invitation to Sparking Connections – Live Long and Prosper or sign up to attend here. This year we honor the Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development and Lifelong Medical Care and the Center for Elders' Independence for the Over 60 Health Center at Mable Howard Apartments. The
discount price runs through May 13th. We look forward
to seeing you on June 6th!
This fabulous silk chiffon scarf designed for us by Dan Shafer of Dandy Co will be on sale for $49.99 plus tax; proceeds support our resident programs!
On June 6th RCD will be holding our annual “Sparking Connections” event at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. This year’s event has a science fiction/future theme, “Live Long and Prosper,” which is the Vulcan way of wishing “good luck,” from Star Trek. Perhaps this is already too much information on this topic for some of you! We think, though, that the affordable housing that RCD builds and operates makes a huge difference in supporting our residents to live long, healthy, and prosperous lives. So please join us on the 6th for what will be a fun evening.
We have made good progress in 2011, working through this very tough time in affordable housing finance. We are proud to have broken ground in March on the 720 E. 11th Street Apartments, in the San Antonio neighborhood of Oakland. This development features many of the elements that make RCD’s projects exciting, if not simple to conceive and build! It is a transit-oriented, in-fill site, in an ethnically diverse, mixed residential and industrial neighborhood. The development is being built on a former brownfield site. It will serve a wide range of families and individuals, with 11 of the 55 apartments set aside for households with people living with disabilities. The project will have a range of on-site resident services and will be built with numerous green features. Also, as we are coming to expect, completing the project financing required several years and iterations, until we got over the hump and could start moving dirt on the site.
It is somewhat amazing to me to consider the challenges we overcome as a matter of course in our work. But the quality and value of what we provide is also tremendously inspiring. We rely on collaborations to be successful, and we are very thankful for our great partnerships and work with many of you, particularly in this time of high stress and uncertainty. We look forward to continuing to work with you to build great communities throughout the East Bay.
Dan Sawislak, RCD Executive Director
What's New at RCD
These last few months have seen a whirlwind of activity as we obtained major financing commitments for several projects, with a number of applications pending to various agencies that underwrite affordable housing finance. In addition to 315 units of new construction in development, we now have 281 units of existing housing that will be given a new lease on life through major rehabilitation efforts, an integral part of our strategy to create and preserve more affordable housing.
RCD was recently selected by the City of Alameda to renovate the Islander Motel, a blighted property built in the early 1970’s that will get a makeover into 62 units of permanent affordable housing, designed for working people and including those living with disabilities. The Islander is located in the Park Street shopping district in the heart of downtown Alameda.
Architect Anne Phillips has used a contemporary design vocabulary and material palette to bring new vitality to the motel and the neighborhood. She writes of the design, “While improving the façade along Central Avenue is an important component of this undertaking, reimaging the “face” of the building along Park Avenue is just as critical. To tackle this challenge, we will construct a new entrance and property management and services office at the street level along Park Avenue, with a community room and open space behind.”
If you would like to see a comprehensive rehabilitation in progress, join us for an open house at Erna P. Harris Court in Berkeley on Thursday, May 12, between 10am and noon. As part of the 15th annual East Bay Affordable Housing Week the discussion will highlight the greening of the property, showing the energy upgrades, indoor air quality improvements, sustainable material and system choices, and landscaping that improve the property’s livability and sustainability. Joining us will be EBHO board members Peggy Jen and Patricia Osage along with Miya Kitahara from StopWaste.org.
The Arbors in Richmond just received RCD’s first (and one of California’s first) existing multi-family homes GreenPoint ratings from Build It Green. The Arbors participated in a pilot program to set the standards in the category of existing multi-family homes, helping define state-of-the-art green building.
Our rehab plans integrate affordability, units for people with special needs, sustainability, shared amenities, and a Resident Services Program in ways that support current and future residents in building self-sufficiency. Here’s a sample of activities from our Resident Services Program calendar that focus on health and wellness.
Thanks to Full Belly Farm, residents at The Harrison in Oakland have fresh and seasonal organic produce for their weekly cooking and nutrition class, which includes recipes, conversations about nutrition, lunch, and produce to take home. Ilah Jarvis of Eat Better Feel Betterrecently taught residents how to pickle and can onions, garlic, peppers, beets, and cauliflower. Inspired by the fresh vegetables, residents eagerly await designs by Victory Lee for an indoor community garden so they can add their own homegrown food to Full Belly Farm's generous donation.
More than 70 residents of Oxford Plaza, Mable Howard Apartments, Eastmont Court, Fox Courts, and The Harrison have benefited from the services of Project Vision, a student volunteer service club at UC Berkeley that provides free vision screening and information on eye health. The students also provide free reading glasses and referrals to free or low cost vision care programs, which a great number of the participants need.
Fifteen minutes of bodywork is often enough to provide relief from chronic pain, as some of our more frail seniors at Mable Howard Apartments are finding out. Massage therapy improves circulation and enhances mobility, while helping ease leg cramps, backaches, upper respiratory congestion, and other common conditions. It feels good and it encourages folks to keep as active as possible.
Seniors at Villa Vasconcellos have attended a series of workshops, most recently “Sensory Deficits are Normal” and “Medicare 101,” to help them understand issues that may affect them or family and friends.
Enthusiasm abounds in the youth cooking classes at Fox Courts where we’ve mixed up batches of bagels, holiday cookies, and sambusa, a Middle Eastern delicacy filled with vegetables and beef.
We are grateful for recent major grants from the San Francisco Foundation for support of these and many other resident services activities as well as our affordable housing development and to the Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation for support of our Resident Services Program in Contra Costa County.
RCD is now a certified Green Business, passing California’s business certification standards for water and energy conservation, solid waste reduction, and pollution prevention. We learned from the process that one small change will make a big difference – double sided printing is now the default on our printers to save paper and money. For information on certification and to locate other green businesses, click here.