East Bay churches, nonprofits eyed for affordable housing production

East Bay churches, nonprofits eyed for affordable housing production
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By Kathy Chouteau

A new California law makes it easier for houses of worship to build affordable housing on their land, and a new collaboration is working to accelerate such developments in the East Bay.

AB 1851, authored by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, reduces parking requirements in order to allow affordable housing to be constructed by faith-based organizations. It became law Jan. 1.

Now a collaboration is underway that aims to accelerate housing development on East Bay properties owned by faith organizations as well as other nonprofits. This week, it was announced that Uche Uwahemu, senior district field representative for Wicks’ office, has joined the Board of Directors of New Way Homes (NWH) to help the nonprofit in its efforts to create a scalable model in East Bay neighborhoods.

NWH uses funds raised from foundations and individual socially-conscious investors to help faith-based organizations and other nonprofits design, construct and manage affordable housing on their land. Currently, NWH is working to complete 12 affordable housing units set for occupancy by spring 2021 via a partnership with Genesis Worship Center, an East Oakland church with black leadership. NWH said it is currently partnering with several more churches throughout Oakland.

As part of their newest collaboration, Uwahemu and NWH President Sibley Simon, who worked together to realize AB 1851, are expected to announce new projects this year with numerous East Bay nonprofit landowners.

“Part of my job on this earth is to hold hope for those who are hopeless,” Uwahemu said in a statement. “NWH offers hope and dignity to our less privileged and most vulnerable populations. This is a great strategic partnership to address the affordability crisis in California—NWH is filling housing gaps.”

To support NWH’s work creating affordable housing in the East Bay, click here.