There is a growing renaissance in the community of Ashland, Calif., an unincorporated area in southern Alameda County that has suffered from poverty and poor levels of health.
Ashland Place, an 85-unit affordable housing development that opened in December, is one of the latest additions to the community. It joins the REACH Ashland Youth Center, which provides area youths ages 11 to 24 with access to recreation, education, art, and career development as well as a health clinic, a library, and a child development center.
“The county and a collaborative of nonprofits and community organizations have focused on investment efforts in the Ashland neighborhood,” says Jessica Sheldon, a project manager for Resources for Community Development (RCD), the developer behind Ashland Place. “The development is part of a transformation that will provide a level of resources and access to amenities that the community needs and deserves.”
RCD combined several underutilized lots to create Ashland Place, which serves low-income families earning between 30% and 50% of the area median income. Fifteen of the units are set aside as supportive housing for low-income young adults between 18 and 24 who are homeless or who have left the foster care system or a group home.
Free on-site supportive services are offered to all residents, including computer training, workshops, and other communitywide social activities. First Place for Youth offers intensive individual case management for the young adults to help them transition to fully independent living.
“In this out-of-control housing market, having a stable place to live where you know your rent is not going to go above set levels provides a peace of mind and opens up direct energy for residents’ other goals, education, and health care,” says Sheldon.
In addition to its affordable housing, the development’s 2,000 square feet of commercial space is part of a strategy for the economic development of a food hub for small local businesses. Alameda County’s Community Development Agency is partnering to create a market/café to provide fresh, healthy food for the community. Set to open in 2017, it will also provide a community gathering space and an opportunity for local food entrepreneurs to showcase their products.
The $41.7 million Ashland Place is one of the last developments to receive California redevelopment agency funds. Plans for it were under way when the agencies were dissolved, and Alameda County acted quickly to secure the redevelopment funding to invest in the project. In addition, the county allocated HOME funds to the project. The development also utilized low-income housing tax credits. Union Bank was the tax credit investor as well as the construction and permanent lender.