Emeryville is using its excess land to create new affordable housing for disadvantaged youth, seniors and formerly incarcerated people.
A project on San Pablo Avenue has been approved and a project on Adeline Street was the subject of a request for proposal issued at the city council meeting on Tuesday.
In 2012, then Governor. Jerry Brown has terminated funding for the redevelopment projects. Emeryville Mayor John Bauters said the towns halted construction because they didn’t have funding to build on the land, creating a surplus. A state law was passed in 2021 that says cities have until September of this year to submit plans for their surplus land or it would have to be auctioned off.
Emeryville has plans approved for most of its properties, but land on San Pablo Avenue and Adeline Street was untouched. The San Pablo Avenue property will have 13 units dedicated to transition-age youth – considered those in their late teens to early 20s who are coming out of foster care or facing other challenges – as well as 54 units for seniors and an on-site manager. Four units will also be built on Adeline Street.
Bauters said his mission was to use all available land for affordable housing.
“Since we really don’t want to lose the opportunity to build affordable housing in our community, this past year we’ve been really committed to what we’re going to do with each of our projects,” the mayor said.
Adeline Street has three small parcels of surplus land that represent less than half an acre. The city determined that the land could be used to create four properties, housing four formerly incarcerated people.
“Even though it’s a small amount of land, I asked for an agenda item a few months ago,” Bauters said. “I asked the council to move forward with a concept I came up with, which was to turn it into a group home or collective housing or one to four microunits – tiny housing units that could accommodate people returning from incarceration.”
Rising Sun Center for Opportunity, a nonprofit that provides job training for formerly incarcerated people, is one block away. The organization helps people who reintegrate into society after being incarcerated or in prison and teaches them to develop professional skills.
They learn how to install solar panels or protect a roof from the weather – skills that could land them construction jobs or apprenticeships. The program lasts six to eight weeks and serves cohorts or classes of eight to 10 people at a time.
Bauters said the location of the project will allow these residents to receive housing and other services while reintegrating into society.
“They would have one or two people literally sleeping in a car outside their building because they got out of jail, but they don’t have a place to live,” Bauters said. “When I saw we had these properties that were going to go to public auction, I asked the city council, I said it was an opportunity for us to do something that will transform people’s lives. Even if it’s only four people at a time living in this place, they can walk by their vocational training opportunity. It’s a huge victory for people.
The San Pablo Avenue project will include 68 housing units for transitioning youth and seniors. This type of housing project is called intergenerational housing – Bianca Neumann, director of business development at the Ecumenical Housing Association, the project’s developers, said it was the first of its kind in California.
Bauters said people in transition have a high risk of becoming homeless, as many are alone without an adult figure. Older people are at risk for mental illness and loneliness. This intergenerational housing style responds to these issues.
“It’s proven to be a really successful model that produces a lot of success for young adults and is rewarding for seniors,” Neumann said. “I think just understanding that these two communities could benefit from living in the same space and interacting is really what made us support it.”
The San Pablo Avenue project was originally proposed in 2017 as seniors-only housing because there was a state law that set age-based limits for housing classified as housing developments for the elderly. elderly. This meant that affordable housing for seniors could not also house young people.
In September 2021, Senate Bill 591 was passed, which would allow intergenerational housing – housing for seniors, caregivers and transitioning youth.
“Many studies show that there are extremely high social and health benefits to co-locating or co-hosting young people who need adult mentorship and who do not have adult figures in their lives with adults who live alone, who face loneliness and isolation,” Bauters said. said. “There’s a lot of data showing that older people who live with younger people live healthier, are more independent later in life, retain better mental faculties.”
The Ecumenical Housing Association will have a service coordinator who will work with the team from Unity Care, an organization that provides services to underserved young people, and Lifelong Medical Care, a healthcare company that will help the elderly. . Together they will create programs, classes and activities that support community development within the property. These could include older residents teaching younger residents how to knit or transitioning youth teaching older residents how to use an iPhone.
“We’ve spent time now trying to research those areas of overlap to create programming that serves both communities,” Neumann said.
San Pablo Avenue units will vary in price depending on the income of the resident and the size of the unit. The rent would be approximately $479 per month for residents with an annual family income of $19,000 while it would be $1,540 for residents with a family income of $65,700. Unity Care will recommend young people of transitional age to live in the property and seniors will be selected through a lottery system.
Both properties will be tax credit-funded projects, which means residents of these units will have to recertify each year that they are low-income and still qualify to live in low-income housing.
Bauters said his constituents supported the plans. Emeryville had a 72.5% approval rating for Measure C, an affordable housing bond, in 2018. The $50 million from this bond is used to support existing affordable housing projects, help low-income residents income and partly finance new projects like these two properties. .
The developers of the San Pablo Avenue project will submit their plans at the July 28 meeting. The council will assess the developers of the Rue Adeline sites in August.
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