Last week, we began a conversation about embodying equity.

So far, you all have learned exactly what equity means to Community Vision, and how it drives our strategic plan. And over the next three weeks, we’re excited to dive deeper into the work that it’s taken to ensure community members have access to employment, homes, healthy foods, health care, education, and economic opportunities. We’ll discuss a number of past partnerships in our target markets of San Francisco, Oakland, and Central Valley, California by focusing in on how our work helps build equity through the creation and preservation of spaces – spaces that contribute to and support financially strong, vibrant community visions.

This week, we’re focusing in on Oakland, a city well known for its historical dynamism, fueled by the manifold populations.

The Greater Oakland Fund

Originally seeded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Greater Oakland Fund (GO Fund) supports the pre-development and property acquisition efforts of nonprofit developers and community organizations. Community feedback taught us that pre-development expenses were a frequently insurmountable barrier for nonprofits considering a facility project and for affordable housing developers considering a land purchase. The GO Fund was created as an innovative response to inequitable circumstances, providing grants and zero-interest loans to fund site characterization and other predevelopment activities. If a project moved ahead to development, the shared resources transitioned into a loan. If the project did not move forward, the money remained a grant, eliminating risk for the nonprofit organization. Since 2005, we’ve invested more than four million dollars into over 25 community facility and affordable housing projects. The GO Fund has allowed for growth and opportunity in other community-building and serving industries, bringing about new and necessary businesses like Community Foods Market discussed below.

Bridge Housing's St. Joseph’s Apartments on International Blvd in East Oakland. The project, a recipient of GO Fund capital, provides more than 80 units of affordable housing for seniors.

Community Foods Market

Community Foods Market (CFM), a full-service, community-oriented grocery store, is opening its doors to West Oakland residents on June 1st. Spearheaded by founder Brahm Ahmadi, CFM emerged from People’s Grocery, a nonprofit that has been operating food enterprises, community workshops, and more for the last 14 years throughout Oakland.

In addition to being a truly high-impact undertaking for West Oakland residents, CFM demonstrates what we can create in long-term partnership, from concept to construction, and continued success. In collaboration with California FreshWorks, a program that Community Vision has administered since 2017, CFM has evolved its impact in West Oakland with the help of community-funded grants, direct public offerings, debt-based loans, forgivable loans, technical assistance, and New Markets Tax Credits. Having evolved from their nonprofit roots as People’s Grocery into a community-owned “symbol of rebirthfor West Oakland (official as of June 1, 2019), CFM doesn’t just provide families with affordable quality foods and groceries; it creates local jobs and space for community building and socializing.

East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation’s Housing Acquisition Fund

East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) was established as a community development nonprofit organization serving the East Bay, and particularly low-income and Asian and Pacific Islander populations. It works to mitigate community displacement by acquiring, developing, and managing community facilities like high quality affordable housing, retail spaces, and community centers to help build healthy, vibrant, and safe neighborhoods fostering economic opportunities for families and individuals, while creating safe, connected, community spaces where all people can thrive.

In response to the rapidly rising costs of housing throughout Oakland, EBALDC launched the Housing Acquisition Fund in 2016. The fund supports EBALDC’s strategy of purchasing existing multi-family housing developments in neighborhoods where rents are rapidly increasing.

Our fiscal support of EBALDC’s Housing Acquisition Fund has not only provided affordable multi-family housing units, but – through the provision of flexible loan terms and approach – allowed us to shine light on the importance of unit preservation, ensuring existing residents can stay in their homes, even while allowing for new unit development. Our resources allow EBALDC to use one pool of funds to quickly acquire currently occupied and affordable housing from the speculative market, and ensuring that when those units do become available, other low-income tenants can afford them. If EBALDC had to seek traditional financing for each individual project, they would have to go through a much longer internal process and external loan approval – this would likely result in a more traditional investor acquiring the property faster and moving it to market rate.

Resident of Casa Grande Village, one of the multi-family properties purchased through EBALDC’s Housing Acquisition Fund

East Oakland Youth Development Center

Founded in 1978, the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) is a nonprofit youth center that offers a range of education, health, and arts programs for youth ages 6-18. Situated among one of Oakland’s most disinvested neighborhoods, where crime and poverty rates are above the state and national averages, EOYDC’s facility and programs provide young people a refuge where they can develop social and leadership skills to achieve their educational, career, and personal goals.

When we began working with EOYDC in 2012, many of the organization’s programs had waiting lists, and their facility was limited in multi-functional recreational and educational program space. To accommodate the growth of their community offerings and to implement energy efficiency upgrades throughout the building, Community Vision acted, first as a New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) consultant for EOYDC, and later, as a financial ally helping to secure $8.5 million in NMTCs; along with a $2.8 million capital campaign bridge loan. The renovation and expansion of EOYDC’s headquarters at 82nd and International Boulevard added over 5,000-square-feet, including a health and wellness room for martial arts and dance programs, and a larger space for their Homework and Resource Center.

All the programming and resources offered at EOYDC are free of charge for the young folks in Oakland and the surrounding area. From job training and placement, GED classes, arts and wellness programs, EOYDC offers a place where young people can traverse the daily challenges they may face and choose professional and personal paths that are right for them.

EOYDC staff and youth at the grand opening of the organization's new space in 2015.

At Community Vision, we believe that Oakland’s strength lies in the incredible network of community-centered nonprofits and small businesses promoting and preserving the city’s unique identity, arts and cultural scene, and political organizing.  We partner with local nonprofits and small businesses to create amplified capacity, so that they might continue to be a resource for underserved residents facing the challenges of rapid gentrification and displacement sweeping across the East Bay.

Community Vision is dedicated to promoting equitable revitalization that creates a thriving Oakland for all of its residents.

Our lending and consulting teams are more than happy to help you, and your organization, purchase community or nonprofit-owned property in Oakland, particularly if you are in the pre-development stage and looking to gain more understanding and potential partnership.