Insecurity Over Housing Has a Trickle-down Effect on Economy

In Emeryville, CA, a newly-completed affordable community had its opening ceremony on October 15. This community is a mixed-use development oriented around transit. It's the last step in a partnership between public and private partners, including the city of Emeryville, the city of Oakland, Alameda County and Oakland's Housing Authority. Their collaboration focused on creating more affordable housing, which was in high demand.

Why This Project Was Important

The addition of affordable housing units to a high-cost housing city is critical to health and wellness. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said that housing is health. The COVID-19 pandemic has made housing even more critical to the health and safety of Oakland residents as well as all Americans.

About the Emeryville Housing Project

This housing project, called Estrella Vista, is located less than one mile from the MacArthur BART station, which is located at 3706 San Pablo Avenue. It's close to several pubic bus lines as well as major hospitals, convenient grocery stores, family-owned and chain restaurants, public and private K-12 schools and many options for entertainment. Mayor Christian Patz of Emeryville stated that this housing development's location near services, shopping, jobs and transit brings vitality to the neighborhood.

What Happens When Families Face High Housing Costs

When families have no choice but to deal with high housing costs, there's little money left over for anything else. People may have to make serious sacrifices or trade-offs in their budgets. They may have to decide between buying groceries or school clothes for their kids. They may have to choose between paying the light bill or the gas bill. They may not have enough money for all their prescriptions.

Affordable Housing Provides Stability

Stable and affordable housing prices have a positive impact on families and the communities in which they live. People benefit from economic stability. There's a lower risk of becoming homeless. In the Estrella Vista development, the 250 residents are mostly working families. Some are seniors. Some are veterans, and others have special needs. A few residents used to be homeless. The development has several units reserved for people with physical, auditory or vision impairments. There are also units reserved for HIV-positive residents.

How Affordable Housing Helps Families

When families have stable housing, children do better in school. People of all ages have better health. Lower housing prices free up money for families to buy healthy food. People can afford to join a gym or buy shoes or a bicycle for exercise. People have better mental health when they don't have to worry about whether they can afford to pay their essential bills every month.

Low Housing Prices Helps People Rise Up

A person who is trying to overcome financial challenges also benefits from low housing prices. Many veterans have trouble finding steady employment after their time in the United States military comes to an end. They may have mental health conditions related to their service, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental health disorders make it difficult for some people to maintain steady employment. When rent is more affordable on a pension or on a service worker's income, the individual has a much better chance at achieving financial stability and living a more satisfying life.

About the Estrella Vista Apartments

The Estrella Vista development has 87 apartments. They range from studios to units with one to four bedrooms. Their sizes range from 569 to 1,572 square feet. Rent prices range from $590 to $2,002. This is 20% to 60% of the area's median income level. The complex has environmentally-friendly features, including photovoltaic solar panels, low-flow toilets and showers, a solar water heating system, Energy Star-rated appliances and lights and landscaping that conserves waters. The complex also has an emphasis on using recycled materials. There is a charging station for electric cars and a storage area for bicycles. These improvements lower utility costs for the residents.

Estrella Vista Earns Environmental Award

Estrella Vista's sustainable design earned LEED Gold certification. Its proximity to jobs, services and schools add to the affordability. The complex's walk score is 90 out of 100, and its bicycling score is 94 out of 100. That means the area is very easy to walk or bicycle as a shopper or commuter. Being able to use these modes of transportation reduces traffic congestion and pollution. Walking or biking to school, work or the store also reduces expenses for the community's residents.

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