A new development has brought an innovative mix of affordable homes, shelter beds, and supportive services to Berkeley, California.
Officials say the joint project by BRIDGE Housing and Berkeley Food & Housing Project (BFHP) is the largest affordable housing development and homeless services center in the city.
Located in the heart of downtown, the approximately $132 million community includes two side-by-side developments: BRIDGE’s Berkeley Way Apartments with 89 affordable homes and services for low- and very low-income families; and BFHP’s Hope Center, with 53 permanent supportive housing apartments, a 32-bed homeless shelter, 12 transitional beds for homeless veterans, a community kitchen, and wraparound services for mental health, substance abuse, job training, and social activities.
“The Hope Center is aptly named, as the housing and services that this landmark project creates will spur opportunity and prosperity—it’s my proudest accomplishment as mayor of Berkeley,” said Jesse Arreguín. “This moment marks the culmination of a decade of work and dedication from countless people. We have transformed a parking lot into a portrait of progress.”
The vision for the Hope Center began in 2009 when BFHP and the city approved a framework for relocating the BFHP Men’s Shelter to a new, seismically safe multiservice center focused on housing first. In 2013, the city council sought proposals to replace a city surface-level parking lot with affordable and permanent supportive housing as well as supportive services; BFHP and BRIDGE Housing were selected to build the joint development.
In 2018, Berkeley voters approved Measure O, a $135 million bond for affordable housing. Funding from this bond measure provided critical dollars to help finance the development. Groundbreaking took place in 2020, and the first residents began moving in at the end of September.
“This is truly a historic moment as we bring online the single largest infusion of affordable and permanent supportive housing in Berkley’s history,” said Calleene Egan, CEO of BFHP. “We hope this is the first of many developments of this kind throughout the Bay Area, offering truly permanent homes with wraparound support to ensure each and every one of our neighbors can access and sustain a safe, comfortable, permanent home.”
“We’re proud to be part of this collaborative effort to deliver a broad range of housing and service solutions to Berkeley,” said Ken Lombard, president and CEO of BRIDGE Housing. “In keeping with our mission, the Hope Center and Berkeley Way go beyond housing to provide opportunities that lift up people and the community. We’re grateful to Berkeley Food & Housing Project and all of the partners who helped bring this development to life.”
Financial partners for both developments include the city of Berkeley, Berkeley Housing Authority, Alameda County, California Department of Housing and Community Development, National Equity Fund (NEF), Merritt Community Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, California Debt Limit Allocation Committee, and donations from members of the Berkeley community. Additional funding for the Hope Center is being provided by Citi Community Development/LISC-NEF’s Bring Them Homes initiative. Additional financial partners for Berkeley Way Apartments include PGIM, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.
The architect is Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, and the general contractor is Nibbi Brothers General Contractors.