The Growth of Small Businesses and Affordable Housing in the Bay Area
April 05, 2016
Calvert Foundation recently trekked across the country to see how our investments in non-profits and social enterprises are transforming the Bay Area. We gathered a group of financial advisors and investors to tour an affordable housing development and meet with a small business owner. We were joined by Calvert Investments, which invests in the Community Investment Note through their socially responsible mutual funds.
Our partners at BRIDGE Housing hosted us at their beautiful St. Joseph’s Campus in Oakland, CA. The unique multigenerational, mixed-use campus is composed of St. Joseph’s Senior Apartments and Terraza Palmera, a multi-family rental complex.
The St. Joseph’s Senior Apartments building was originally a convalescent home built in 1913 by the Little Sisters of the Poor to care for the poor and sick elderly. BRIDGE renovated this historic landmark to create 84 affordable senior units and approximately 3,200 square feet of commercial space that is available for tenants that support the senior population, such as health-care providers and a pharmacy. Spacious community rooms, sunny terraces and a community garden were constructed while preserving the building’s original stained glass windows, terra cotta tile floors, crown molding, and even the wooden confessionals.
Surrounding the senior apartments are 62 affordable family rental units of Terraza Palmera. The majority of the apartments are new construction but some are built in renovated buildings that were part of the 1913 landmark. Today, the campus is a striking mix of modern style and historic beauty that brings together people of all ages.
Financing from Calvert Foundation supported BRIDGE Housing’s efforts to revitalize the Fruitvale neighborhood by taking advantage of an underutilized landmark and mitigating physical blight.
We also got a glimpse of how investment in Calvert Foundation’s Community Investment Note supports small business and job creation. Reign Free, owner of The Red Door catering company in Oakland, supplied a delicious lunch for the event and shared her story.
Several years ago Reign was struggling to make payroll with her five employees and sought a loan from Opportunity Fund, California’s leading microfinance organization and a borrower of Calvert Foundation. Access to this financing has allowed her company to thrive and now employs 30 people that she pays above a livable wage. The Red Door supports other local businesses by working with local farmers and producers to offer organic and seasonal ingredients.
Opportunity Fund also connected Reign with new accounts and clients, even helping her secure a contract with the airport.
We hope to hold more events like this one to show the positive impact that investors are creating, and more directly connect them to our local partners.