OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- On Thursday, East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) and The Unity Council welcomed Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge to Casa Arabella, a 94-unit affordable housing building in the heart of Oakland's Fruitvale Transit Village. Casa Arabella is conveniently located next to the Fruitvale BART Station and one block from the Tempo Bus Rapid Transit Line, offering easy access to the greater Bay Area community for its residents.

EBALDC, The Unity Council Welcome Housing & Urban Development Secretary to Bay Area to Tour Award-Winning Housing

"We intentionally prioritized a visit to Casa Arabella because it sits at the intersection of mass transit, affordable housing, and community development," said HUD Deputy Regional Administrator Wayne Sauseda. "This project was co-developed by two Oakland non-profit organizations that reflect the cultural and ethnic identities of the surrounding neighborhoods. For decades, EBALDC and The Unity Council have demonstrated a successful track record of bringing together local, regional, state and federal partners to achieve large-scale, equitable developments."

In August, Casa Arabella won an Award for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute and was honored as a national model for public-private partnerships and transit-oriented development (TOD). The building, created as a joint venture between EBALDC and The Unity Council, reflects the growing trend in the Bay Area to transform underutilized land near transit hubs into affordable housing communities.

"The neighborhood vision for this project dates back to the 1960s," said District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo. "EBALDC and The Unity Council used their development experience to navigate a number of complexities –  unprecedented cost escalation, federal tax reform, and interagency coordination – to get this project built. Casa Arabella has been a catalyst for the next wave of affordable mixed-use transit projects underway in Oakland."

Both organizations have prioritized affordable and mixed-use projects located near transit. EBALDC has 10 projects in predevelopment within half a mile of BART stations, with an overall presence across its portfolio near six of the nine BART stations in Oakland. The Unity Council, in partnership with BRIDGE Housing Corporation, is in construction on 181 affordable homes at Casa Sueños, the site next door to Casa Arabella, and has three more projects in predevelopment near transit.

"The challenge facing community benefit developments that increase the supply of affordable housing is access to funding," said Chris Iglesias, CEO of The Unity Council . "Public and private partners need to make bold investments so that we can put an end to the Bay Area's housing crisis. Our developments are more than affordable housing; they are homes, community, and an opportunity for families to have a better future. The time to join us is now."

"We are increasingly looking to the private health and technology sectors as a source of impact investing," said Andy Madeira, CEO of EBALDC. "These industries gravitate to our mixed-use and TOD projects since we use a 'Healthy Neighborhoods' approach to equitable development. We are best positioned to support communities of color, create job opportunities, reduce greenhouse emissions, and improve measurable health outcomes."

For more than a decade, EBALDC has prioritized projects and programs using a "Healthy Neighborhoods" framework, which applies a comprehensive approach to affordable housing that focuses on community engagement, strong neighborhood partnership networks, and the expansion of income and wealth-building opportunities. Projects like Casa Arabella are also uniquely positioned to serve an often-overlooked part of our community – homeless and special needs residents. At Casa Arabella, more than 20 percent of the homes are set aside for formerly homeless veterans, with supportive services provided by Operation Dignity.

This project was named after Arabella Martinez, the founder and first CEO of The Unity Council and a tenacious leader in the Fruitvale community for decades. She set the stage for the first mixed-use affordable housing development in the neighborhood, the Fruitvale Village.

For more information about Casa Arabella, watch this 5-minute video, "Building Partnerships: the Casa Arabella Story." Please also visit EBALDC's website and The Unity Council's website.

Editor's Note: EBALDC CEO Andy Madeira and The Unity Council CEO Chris Iglesias are available for interviews to discuss the visit by HUD Secretary Fudge and what it means for the Bay Area's affordable housing crisis.

About East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC):

East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) is a nonprofit community development organization celebrating over 46 years of bringing people and resources together to build healthy, vibrant and safe neighborhoods where everyone has a place to call home. EBALDC is one of the region's leading affordable housing developers and serves more than 6,000 people annually. For more information, visit EBALDC.org or follow us on Twitter: @EBALDC. 

About The Unity Council

The Unity Council is a non-profit Social Equity Development Corporation with a 55-year history in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. Our mission is to promote social equity and improve quality of life by building vibrant communities where everyone can work, learn, and thrive. Programs include: early childhood education, youth mentorship and leadership development, employment services, career readiness training, housing and financial stability, senior citizen services, affordable housing and neighborhood development, and arts and cultural events.  For more information, visit unitycouncil.org or follow us on Twitter: @TheUnityCouncil.

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SOURCE EBALDC and The Unity Council

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