|MUFG Union Bank||EBALDC||
$1.27 Million AHP Grant*
East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) builds healthy, vibrant, and safe neighborhoods in Oakland and the greater East Bay. EBALDC’s Lion Creek Crossings affordable housing development, located in an area with some of the lowest incomes in the region, is a catalyst for community renewal and a place where families and seniors have an opportunity to connect with one another and with services and programs that help them thrive.
“This location was one of the most dangerous places in Northern California for many years,” says Josh Simon, Executive Director of EBALDC. “There was a dire need to find a way to rebuild the community, without displacing any of the people who were already here.” EBALDC undertook the ambitious redevelopment project, divided into five phases, in partnership with the Oakland Housing Authority and Related Companies of California.
Replacing a notorious 1960s-era public housing project, Lion Creek Crossings is an attractive, open, and expansive complex that features new streets and infrastructure, 5.7 acres of new city park space with a creek restored to environmental health, a basketball court and numerous play areas, and 15,000 square feet of space dedicated to nonprofit social service providers and programs.
Residents have access to two childcare centers, the Lion’s Pride afterschool and summer programs, healthcare services, computer labs and free high speed internet, financial education, organized social activities for seniors and families, a year-round free lunch program for children, and more. Some services, including the Head Start daycare facility, are also made available to the surrounding community.
Resident Ann Hampton, 68, owned a house in East Oakland for 42 years. In the wake of the financial crisis she found herself with a mortgage that was underwater. After learning that the department in the bank where she worked was going to be phased out, she was advised by a realtor friend to consider a short sale. “I owned a home that I stayed in for so many years,” she says. “I did the short sale because I couldn’t afford to pay the notes, and I was so stressed out.” Luckily, the realtor made sure that the buyer would let her stay in the home as a renter until she found a new place to live.
Having lived in the vicinity for such a long time, Ann was familiar with the infamous housing project that once stood in the shadow of the Oakland Coliseum, officially called Coliseum Gardens but better known as 69 Ville or The Village. So she was more than a little skeptical when told by her daughter-in-law that applications were being accepted for brand new apartments for seniors on the old site. “I said ‘Where? Oh no, I don’t want to live over there – that’s the worst place in Oakland.’” Persuaded to go take a look, she was pleasantly surprised by how nice it was. “I said, ‘That’s the place I want to live. I would love to live there.’”
Danette Briscoe, 51, was raising her three children not far from the future site of Lion Creek Crossings when she heard about the new development. “Where we were before there was a lot of drug dealing and everything going on right outside our door,” she says. “And I was struggling to pay this rent that kept going up and up. It was killing me.” She put her name on the list for a family apartment at the brand new complex and was thrilled when she was approved for a beautiful three-bedroom apartment. The affordability – she pays 30% of her income in rent – allows her to make caring for 17-year old son Kevon, who has special needs, her main priority. “I’m able to stay home as much as possible with my son and still afford to pay the bills,” she says. Her four-person household also includes a 12-year-old daughter and another son, 24.
Both Danette and Ann are well-known – and much beloved – for throwing themselves whole-heartedly into the life of the Lion Creek community, volunteering in myriad ways to support both community programs and their nearest neighbors. Danette makes time to help with the afterschool program and to take the small kids to school in the morning. “They call me the walking school bus,” she laughs. She’s also famous for the string beans and fried fish she traditionally brings to block parties and other events, and is reliably one of the first to raise her hand to help with all kinds of community activities.
Ann is vice chair of the resident association she helped to found for the seniors building. “When I got here I said to myself, I’m almost 70 years old but I don’t want to just sit down.” In addition to her work with the resident association – planning trips and social activities, bringing in educational resources, cooking for parties, and helping distribute groceries from the Mercy Brown Bag elder care program twice a month, among other things – she volunteers as a senior companion with the City of Oakland, regularly taking clients from the surrounding neighborhood to doctor appointments or shopping. “I am busier now than before, but I truly enjoy helping people,” she says.
For seniors especially, residential amenities that facilitate connection and interaction are key to healthy living. In the Lion Creek Crossings seniors building, even the hallways and the mailbox areas are purposefully designed to be places where people can congregate. “If you look at how many lounge areas this building has, it shows that one of the things we know is that seniors with highly developed social networks – who have opportunities to play bridge or mahjong together, for example – do better cognitively and otherwise over time,” says Ener Chiu, Associate Director of Real Estate Development at EBALDC, who was the project manager for the development.
FHLBank San Francisco member MUFG Union Bank provided $18 million in construction financing and $6 million in permanent mortgage financing. For the fifth phase of the project, construction of an apartment building for seniors, Union Bank also secured and delivered a $1.27 million AHP grant. “Union Bank wants to have a very active role in the communities we serve, and affordable housing is a big part of that mandate,” says William ‘Terce’ Sandifer, Managing Director and Head of Originations. “It’s something we take very seriously and feel great about. We’re incredibly proud of the role we play in financing communities like Lion Creek Crossings.”
*The Lion Creek Crossings project also received $1.10 million in AHP funding through member Pacific Western Bank and $525,000 in AHP funding through member Far East National Bank.