Oakland, California – Today, the City of Oakland and several community partners marked the second year of implementation of the Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors (BNSN) initiative by providing a progress update. Funded by a $28.2 million Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) grant from the California Strategic Growth Council, the initiative brought together the City of Oakland, several community organizations, residents and business owners to implement implemented five projects on four transformative elements in a five square-mile area in deep East Oakland.
“Thanks to the vision and leadership of East Oakland stakeholders and the generous support of the Strategic Growth Council, the ‘Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors’ initiative has accomplished so much since its launch,” said Mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf. “From the distribution of fruit trees to the inauguration of an affordable housing development and a community clinic, transformative projects are underway to create healthy neighborhoods, create jobs and community wealth and prevent displacement. . Fair trade neighborhoods are neighborhoods that are resilient to climate change.
“We are extremely proud to be part of the work led by the Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors team and their partners, who are demonstrating the power of community in transforming neighborhoods to be healthier, more inclusive and connected. . said Lynn von Koch-Liebert, executive director of the Strategic Growth Council.
More than half (36) of the 60 planned jobs have already been created by BNSN partners since the launch.
Housing units to be completed early
Following a September 2021 groundbreaking, construction of the deeply affordable 55-unit mixed-use development at 95e & International is now a year ahead of schedule and will be completed by the end of 2022. In addition to much-needed accommodation, the development will have a community-serving health clinic run by La Clínica de La Raza, on the ground floor. The broad public-private development partnership led by ACTs Community Development Corporation includes Related California, the City of Oakland, the California Strategic Growth Council (through the Transformative Climate Communities grant), the California Department of Conservation, the ‘Oakland Housing Authority, US Bank and Citibank. The housing development will be for local residents who earn between 20% and 50% of the average median income, and 25% of the units are for homeless populations.
Planting fruit trees takes root
The Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation, in partnership with Planting Justice, planted exactly 200 fruit trees in the BNSN area and directly contacted 2,000 people about the fruit tree planting project. The Initiative’s goal is to plant 2,000 new residential and street trees to promote a healthier environment and improve air quality, mitigate the heat effect of city blocks, reduce runoff and prevent scorch .
Enrichment on two wheels
Higher Ground, in partnership with Scraper Bikes, served 135 young people through its loaner bike program and after-school classes at 5 schools and 1 recreation center. This element of the BNSN has also created jobs by employing 10 youths and 4 adults from East Oakland. The groups also trained riders by leading 7 community rides. They are well on their way to meeting the goals of serving 560 youth and installing a permanent bicycle shelter for the repair and programming of publicly accessible bicycles.
Aquaponics farm and food center
A historic 3-acre nursery has been acquired by Planting Justice to create one of the largest and most productive urban aquaponic farms in the United States, capable of producing hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh organic produce for residents of ‘East Oakland. They have completed site remediation and are awaiting permits to build the new greenhouses. Through the TCC grant, Planting Justice has created 12 full-time, living-wage jobs – all of which are 100% filled by plan area residents.
Travel avoidance strategy in progress
A core part of the BNSN initiative is improving neighborhoods while retaining existing residents and businesses to stop displacement and build community wealth. To date, BNSN partners have:
- participated in 6 community events
- hosted 1 tenant rights workshop with the Oakland Rent Adjustment Program
- planned 4 events in the near future, including: an orientation session on the East Bay Permanent Housing Cooperative in August; a workshop in August by the Northern California Land Trust; a cultural and artistic event in September and a walk-in legal clinic in November with the Sustainable Economies Law Center.
This BNSN project has 3 new jobs to date and has conducted outreach to 700 residents resulting in 33 direct follow-ups which included 10 participants in the resource center’s walk-in literacy program.
Launch of the Community Stakeholder Committee
To ensure that the community continues to lead the BNSN initiative, a Community Stakeholder Committee was created. From the current 4 community members, 8 additional candidates are under review for committee approval this month.
Upcoming professional training
Plans to help 200-300 local residents access jobs and training leading to well-paying, in-demand jobs are underway with discussions about adding another partner organization. The targeted career sectors are clean energy, greenhouse gas reducing industries, healthcare and horticulture.
Pivot on the community project
Due to unresolved issues with Union Pacific Railroad, the 1.2-mile multi-modal trail connecting East Oakland neighborhoods and Martin Luther King Jr. Coastal Park will be replaced with another community priority project that may be completed before the end of the grant period.
To learn more about the BNSN initiative and individual projects, visit https://eastoaklandca.com.
Challenging the typical top-down approach to community development, the “Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors” initiative builds on decades of activism in East Oakland and the East Oakland Neighborhood Initiative (EONI ). EONI focused on deep engagement in six East Oakland neighborhoods: Melrose, Highland/Elmhurst, Sobrante Park, Brookfield Village/Columbia Gardens, Stonehurst, Coliseum/Rusdale/Lockwood/Havenscourt.
“Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors” is supported by the California Strategic Growth Council’s Transformative Climate Communities program with funds from California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of dollars in cap-and-trade at work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy, and improve public health and the environment in disadvantaged communities.
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