Affordable housing emerges in Hayward

Denika Williams,

In an effort to meet the rising local demand for affordable housing, a Northern California housing development agency called Eden Housing teamed up with BART and city officials to construct a 151-unit low income apartment complex for families and seniors near the South Hayward BART station.

Alta Mira, the new affordable senior and family living residence, was completed at the beginning of October. Eden Housing, a property management and development company, worked with South Hayward BART and the city of Hayward to construct the building.

Alta Mira provides on-site resident services such as presentations and educational classes, along with programs catered to children and community-building. Children programs run after school and during summer, and adults are welcome to utilize the financial management and homebuyer training programs. Residents also receive yearly AC Transit bus passes for free or at a discounted rate equaling less than $100 for the year.

The Bay Area is currently in a housing crisis, driven largely by the tech industry’s boom, a growing population and a small housing supply. The area is reportedly the most expensive rental market in the country: the median price of one-bedroom apartments are going for more than $3,500 per month, according to a May report from real estate site Zumper.

There are 75,620 low income housing units that are needed in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to Alameda County’s current Regional Housing Need Allocations.

“Hayward needs affordable, as well as market-rate housing throughout the entire city, as does the entire Bay Area,” said David Rizk, director of development services for the city of Hayward. “The lack of production of both market rate and affordable housing compared with the overwhelming demand for new housing has contributed to an affordable housing crisis.”

The number of housing units needed for both low and very low income families is almost equal to the amount for above-moderate families who can afford market-rate housing: there are only about a 3,000 household difference separating the two, according to the current RHNA.  

Initially proposed and built by Eden Housing, Alta Mira Senior and Family Apartments are located on the eastern half of Mission Boulevard, across the street from South Hayward BART.

Before construction started last year, the space was used for overflow BART parking. Officials say the location across the street from BART is ideal for affordable and market rate housing because they are close to AC Transit bus lines.

“Also, being located close to the South Hayward BART station allowed the project to be successful in securing State Proposition 1C grant funds, without which the project would not have been possible,” Rizk commented.

Known as the Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006, California Proposition 1C helps Bay Area residents by providing housing near public transportation for low-income families, seniors and military veterans, according to California’s Department of Developmental Services.

Based on last year’s annual Housing & Community Development report, “Hayward has permitted 108 above-moderate income units so far as we are only in the first year of the reporting period,” stated Omar Cortez, housing development specialist for the city of Hayward.

By 2022, the city of Hayward intends to build nearly 4,000 new housing units. Alta Mira is already complete and one market rate complex, Cadence Apartments, is still under construction. An additional 1,766 housing units need to be completed within six years to meet the 2022 housing needs, according to City of Hayward Planning Division documents.

Alameda County’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program enables Alta Mira to be considered low income and affordable housing because tenant’s monthly rent would be equal to 30, 40 or 50 percent of their average monthly income. Rent limits are expected to change yearly, but the current maximum rent is between $548 and $1,267.

There are two buildings on the lot: one for families and the other for seniors. Both buildings share the outside courtyard space and underground parking garage.  

The two buildings consist of one, two and three-bedroom apartments and two manager units. The 151 complex unit includes: 64 one-bedrooms, 52 two-bedrooms and 33 three-bedrooms. Tenant applications for the complex opened earlier this year in April for two weeks.

In May, Eden Housing conducted a lottery for the entire application pool in an attempt to make the selection process fair. Priority was given that those who lived or worked in the city. Those who did not receive a unit during the lottery were placed on a waiting list, then contacted in order of preference, lottery number and then household size, according to Eden’s Housing official statements.

“The application process was long and there were 500 applicants selected in a lottery. I am happy I was chosen because units were given on a first qualified basis,” said Kamari Douglas, a new resident in the Eden Housing complex.

“Both buildings are completely finished and we are currently moving our occupants in,” said Shawn Briant, assistant manager of Alta Mira. As of [Nov. 1] we are at 100 percent full capacity.”