Susan Friedland, executive director of Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA), says transforming two decrepit hotels into service-enriched affordable housing in downtown Oakland, Calif., involved a convergence of issues facing urban areas nationwide: homelessness, the need to bring aging housing stock up to modern standards, and the foreclosure crisis. And it wasn’t a simple task.
The nonprofit began the project in 2008 when it was approached by the city about purchasing the Oaks Hotel, an SRO that was in default of its financing. Built in the early 1900s, the hotel needed a gut rehab to provide units with private bathrooms and kitchens, and the developer didn’t think it was feasible as a stand-alone project.
But in 2009, SAHA learned that the Jefferson Inn, a historic hotel next door to the Oaks, was for sale. By combining the two properties, the nonprofit could achieve economies of scale to make the financing work. So it purchased the Jefferson Inn, acquired the Oaks Hotel out of foreclosure, and started construction in 2010 to combine the two structures into The Savoy. It took more than 10 financing agencies to make the $26.7 million project a reality.
Completed in March 2013, the 101 renovated studio apartments serve formerly homeless and very low-income individuals who pay no more than 30 percent of their incomes for rent.