Who Uses EBALDC’S Services?
(Based on 2016 Data)
Who Lives in EBALDC Buildings?
(Based on September 2017 Data)
Gregory Brannon moved into the California Hotel in 2013. He served in the Navy from 1986 to 1990 as a “radio man,” connecting land-based messages to the officers on the ship. Through his service, he had the opportunity to play basketball with locals all around the world. He is now retired from the Emeryville Community Services Recreation Department. He was the Recreation Manager there for 14 years and had always enjoyed establishing relationships with the community as a whole.
When he moved into the California Hotel, he kept to himself as he acclimated to the new environment. After 1 ½ years, he decided to get to know his neighbors. He thought if he had something to offer, then he needed to be involved and help his community. He was invited to a resident leadership meeting, where he learned more about EBALDC and the work the organization was doing for the neighborhood. He started volunteering to get pastries and coffee three times a week for the meetings, and the meetings quickly turned into a daily coffee hour for residents. It was a time for neighbors in the building to get to know each other. He plans to add newspapers to the meetings for people to read on a daily basis and discuss current events. He believes that when “there’s food in the stomach, there is less attitude and people humble themselves.” He was quickly made chair of the resident leaders in the building. One of the items of discussion for the resident leaders include programming for the empty liquor store lot before EBALDC’s affordable housing buildings gets built, like a playground space or a family recreation center with an early curfew.
He also coaches high school basketball. He sees the sport as a vehicle to bond and support the youth he coaches, and share life lessons through the court. His main message to his team is “how much better your life would be when you help people.” We need to get the next generation to adopt that behaviour. Somewhere along the way, that message got lost with all the shootings happening here.” He recently adopted his three year-old grandson and is stepping out of retirement.
“We have a bunch of yesterdays and only one tomorrow. We need to watch out for our kids. My story just got started, and being part of it is good enough for me.”
Dallaq Market is owned by Lion Creek Crossings residents, Akram and Tizta Dallaq, to serve neighbors and the surrounding community with fresh produce and Middle Eastern food. Akram previously worked for ten years as a parking garage attendant and lived from pay check to pay check. The family’s move to affordable housing gave the couple more space for their two children and financial flexibility from lower rent, which enabled them to open the market. They came up with the idea after a nearby Pak ‘N Save closed its doors in the Havenscourt neighborhood, leaving residents (especially seniors) in a food desert without a grocery store within walking distance. This was a hardship because many residents in the low-income neighborhood do not own cars.
Akram approached EBALDC with his idea in December of 2013. EBALDC partnered with the budding entrepreneur to bring his vision to fruition by helping him create a business plan, draft a letter of intent and cash flow projections to start his first business as a grocer. The market has helped build community at Lion Creek Crossings in very tangible ways; and parents feel comfortable sending children unaccompanied there because the market does not sell alcohol and tobacco, which can attract a negative crowd into the neighborhood. Akram was able to repay his loans within the first year. He is now expanding his operations to Swan’s Market, where he will be offering hot meals for take-out in addition to a range of grocery items.Dallaq Market is owned by Lion Creek Crossings residents, Akram and Tizta Dallaq, to serve neighbors and the surrounding community with fresh produce and Middle Eastern food.
“We were living day to day before, and I never imagined having my own business. But now, anything is possible: There’s potential. It’s about what the community has given us and what we can give back. It was never about money. We just wanted to help the people around us have a better life.”
Naomi Tonsall lived at Jack London Gateway since 2009. She moved to Oakland from San Francisco in 1975 due to her job and the want to be closer to her children. She previously lived in Oak Center Homes right after the construction of the Interstate 980, where families and houses from different neighborhoods around West Oakland were moved to the coop. She lived there for 27 years, participating in the coop’s board, and was the assistant manager and manager onsite.
At Jack London Gateway, she enjoyed the new, ecologically-conscious construction of the building and the amenities it offered, including the beautiful garden, nearby schools and transportation, and the feeling of safety for the children on the property. Most of the residents were predominantly Asian, which prompted her to reach out to English-speaking residents for social gatherings and encourage them to be more engaged. In that capacity, she is slowly getting more involved with the Resident Leadership Council, such as voter registration and events to fund community projects.
Naomi has always found West Oakland to be a decent place to live. She has seen the area develop and change over the years, and she’s quite happy with her community here. She is active in church and very involved with her family, as she now regularly babysits her great-niece, who keeps her busy during the week.
I’m proud of my age. I’ve lived almost twice as long as my mother. Every day is a gift, and that includes the good and the bad. If you have something bad going on, then do the work to make it better. If it’s good, then you count your blessings.”
(On aging in place and her community involvement)
Nancy St. Cin moved to Lion Creek Crossings (senior building) when her rent increased and became unaffordable at her apartment in Hayward. Nancy is legally blind and her girlfriend, Irene, also lived with a disability. When Irene passed away in 2014, Nancy fell into depression. Counselling services were offered at the property, and Nancy found herself in a much better place after a year of therapy.
Nancy became motivated to get involved with her surrounding community in the building and neighborhood. She got involved with getting seniors active, the renter’s association, helped launch the Mercy Brown Bag donations, held the floor with resident association members, and helped out with events and activities. For instance, she tabled the National Night Out 2016 event even after she stepped down from her resident leadership position. Nancy also works with the resident services coordinator (RSC) to improve the quality of life for the senior community in the building—from purchasing foam cups for the RSC office in order to prevent burning on the sensitive skin of seniors to hosting workshops on how to use building and unit facilities.
As an active resident, she is also involved with EBALDC’s Havenscourt Collaborative Steering Committee to address the social conditions impacting residents’ health and wellbeing in the neighborhood. She advocates on behalf of resident needs, with a special emphasis on those with disabilities. She believes that the solutions she’s helping to put into place will be completed when she’s gone, but at least it’s getting started. She finds hope in having direction and unifying the community towards what they want to build with the power they do have. She has been an inspiring visionary for the residents in her building.
“Nothing is going to get done unless you have a strong leader to follow.”
(On why she became involved with the Resident Leadership Council)
Shirley Chung immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in 1979. She left her small business in fashion and the friendships that supported her for a new country where she had nothing but her own grit and dreams. She landed in Oakland where her sister also lived, and was reunited with siblings that had arrived in the Bay Area at different points in time. She fell in love with Oakland for its diversity, and fell even more in love with her new country for the freedom it offered. She found a bookkeeping position to keep her afloat; and more significantly, her place as a volunteer for the Tzu Chi Foundation, providing disaster relief around the world. Having volunteered for the Foundation for over 12 years, her volunteerism also expanded to her local community in East Oakland, especially when it came to homelessness, an issue close to her heart. As the eldest sibling who was used to taking care of everyone in her family, she views the residents in her neighborhood as her extended family and felt compelled to do something to help improve the neighborhood.
Shirley is one of the original residents at Madison Park Apartments and lived there for more than 20 years. She has been the president of the former resident association at the building. She is multi-lingual and knew Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and some English. She acted as a volunteer translator during a time when property managers didn’t know how to speak Cantonese to the predominant Chinese community in the building. She also shared tenant concerns with management. Shriley recently became involved in the Resident Leadership Council again in early 2016. During her time, she has worked on voter engagement projects, like registering voters at Swan’s Market despite her mobility issues, and various fundraising events. She is now advocating for the importance of assigning floor leaders at Madison Park, who act as communication liaisons for their neighbors on the floor, and offering her time for planning and nominations of these positions. EBALDC honored her work and dedication to our community with the 2016 Lynette Jung Lee Resident Leadership award.
“When I was in the refugee camp, I remember the Red Cross helping us. I wanted to give back to my community in the same way.”
(On her community and international involvement.)
Beverly S. was in transitional housing with the Salvation Army in San Francisco for two years before moving to Lion Creek Crossings (senior building). She was attending San Francisco City College and was struggling with increasing rent with a flat income. At the time, she was living on student grants and working for the St. Vincent de Paul in their detoxification program. She later earned her community health worker certificate, got on the medical board for the South of Market Health Center in San Francisco, and worked for the Salvation Army Coop Center. Having grown up in Sacramento, she never saw people living on the streets like she did in San Francisco. Homelessness became an issue close to her heart, and she started volunteering for the Salvation Army to outreach to the homeless.
At Lion Creek Crossings, one of the resident coordinators suggested that Beverly become involved with the Resident Leadership Council. Six and a half years ago, she started leading an active and healthy lifestyle, which allowed her to lose 135 pounds over the course of a year. She continues to work out and stay active. Her experience inspired her to start hosting a healthy food program to help residents eat healthier and learn about nutrition. Residents participated from all five buildings on the property and met every week for 1 ½ hours since December 2015. Two years ago, she also helped launch a food pantry for healthy eating, which evolved to a weekly brown bag service with fresh produce from the grocery store for residents in the senior building. She is also involved with various resident and community events.
She had always dreamed of being a homeowner and being able to leave something to her family members. Last year, she got approved for a home loan. She has one daughter and four grandchildren.
“My parents taught me to always reach out and help whoever you can.”
(On her involvement with the Resident Leadership Council and greater community.)