OAKLAND (KPIX) – The high property prices are not a problem for those who can afford to stay there. But it does lead some African Americans to sell their homes and move. Now, a new program from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is giving low-income black homeowners the chance to profit from their homes without leaving them.
In the 1980s, Oakland was 46% African American, the largest black-dominated city in California. But since then, the city has lost nearly 40,000 of its black residents, some of them due to skyrocketing housing costs. Gentrification is taking its toll on low-income communities and changing the character of Oakland.
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“We have moved from a city that is really rich in art and culture and a high social life to something more sterile,” said third generation Oaklander, Bobby Arte. “The neighborhoods are all starting to look the same. There’s no such thing as the eclectic feel and vibe of the city. And we definitely don’t see that much diversity. “
Arte is the chief operating officer of Well Nest Company, a development company that has become part of a project to rescue black homeowners in Oakland. They do it with backyard in-laws or ADUs, short for accessory dwelling units. His company offers a range of different designs of ADUs and the expertise to guide homeowners through creating them.
“So we can really help streamline this process for the homeowner who doesn’t want to deal with the city, the planning and the design,” said Arte.
It’s a pilot project called Keys to Equity, which gives low-income black homeowners the opportunity to become landlords, earn income without selling their homes, while offering an apartment for someone else. The program is organized by the nonprofit Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services.
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“So we really want to test the assumption, can ADU stabilize the community we care about?” Said RNHS Executive Director Nikki Beasley.
Meanwhile, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has allocated $ 2 million to guarantee home loans so lenders don’t take the risk of lending to homeowners who otherwise would not be qualified, according to Ruby Bolaria-Shifrin, CZI director of housing affordability.
“So you don’t have to be rich or have a lot of equity in your home to get an ADU,” she said.
All you need is a back yard or even a garage that can be converted. The program is only possible due to changes in the law that facilitate the construction of ADUs. The organizers estimate that there are now 20,000 condos in Oakland alone that could qualify for a backyard apartment.
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In most cases, the units can be self-financing and, over time, give low-income African Americans a chance to capitalize on the hot housing market rather than fall prey to it.