As 2022 comes to a close, we wanted to share stories from three of our residents.
These stories demonstrate the power of affordable housing to provide stability during times of uncertainty and create pathways to new beginnings. RCD’s affordable housing has indelibly changed the lives of these families and they are just three among more than 5,000 residents who live and thrive in our communities. Together, we can continue to strive for a Bay Area with safe, affordable homes for all.
It has been a very rough year for David, a long-time resident of Church Lane Apartments in San Pablo. His wife of twenty years lost her fight with cancer, and he struggled with his own significant health challenges. Thankfully, he is now recuperating and caring for his sister who is recovering from two strokes while searching for a long-term care facility for her.
When David first came to Church Lane about a decade ago, the affordable rent enabled him and his wife to get a place of their own after living with his son for a year. This past year, it allowed him to retire from his career as a cook, and care for his wife and now his sister.
“When I got the housing, things just got better because I didn’t have to worry so much about finances and the [market-rate] rents going up so high around here.” David says. “This place gave me a chance to reconstruct my life. I’m happy and I’m just so grateful every day.”
Living next door to David is Chester who moved into his apartment 6 months ago after several years without stable housing. He held a number of jobs over the years – often two at a time to make ends meet – but he lost his apartment after his employer of 10+ years let him go. Losing that job broke his heart.
“My rent kept going up. It was $600 and I could handle that because I was working two jobs,” says Chester. “And then it went up to $1,000 and they gave us three months to get out. I couldn’t believe it!”
After living in various shelters over many years, Chester is quite content in his new home and pleased to be working again as an in-home health aide.
“I love my apartment! It’s a blessing. I’ve started putting away for retirement. They gave me a dining room set; I’m getting a couch. I’m working again and looking for more clients.”
William Goodwin was one of first residents to move into Los Medanos Village in Pittsburg. His new home changed his family’s future and set him a path toward community advocacy.
William was born and raised in Oakland, and he was living in Contra Costa County when an injury prevented him from working. For over 7 years, William moved between the houses of friends and families in search of an affordable home. In 2010, RCD opened Los Medanos Village, a 100% affordable housing community with 71 apartments for low-income families, and William was thrilled when his application was accepted.
“I was ready! Having all my documentation made all the difference because I got the last available apartment.”
Once William was in stable and affordable housing, everything changed. With his young daughter, he started making plans. Soon they were thriving, and his thoughts turned to how he could give back.
“I was always thinking about the other 2,300 people on that waitlist, and it just didn’t sit right with me. So I started working and volunteering with Family Independence Initiative [now called UpTogether], an organization that helps accelerate the initiatives people are taking to rebuild their lives.”
From there, William became involved with Hope Solutions’ Resident Empowerment Program, which led him to A link to: East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO). He joined their leadership development program and then graduated from A link to: Urban Habitat’s Board and Commission Leadership Institute (BCLI). William now serves on a total of 5 boards, councils or committees – all through the lens of equity and changing the narrative.
“Whether I’m fighting for housing justice, social justice, or education – it’s all aligned with building community and fighting for equity. But without affordable housing, none of this could have happened. I just feel blessed to be able to do all these things.”
Now with his daughter heading off for college this fall, an opportunity he wasn’t able to pursue, he reflects on their journey.
“I always think of the saying (by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), ‘if you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.’ I see my daughter watching me and I know it’s forming her vision of what community should be and how we each have a part. I’m hoping that the great thing is actually her and what she will do.”
“Whether I’m fighting for housing justice, social justice, or education – it’s all aligned with building community and fighting for equity. But without affordable housing, none of this could have happened.”