‘A bright spot in a dark time’: Berkeley affordable housing project breaks ground

Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley speaking at Berkeley Way Project event
Victoria Stafford/Staff
Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Berkeley Way Project, the largest affordable and homeless housing development project in the city’s history.

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The Berkeley Way Project, the largest affordable and homeless housing development project in the city of Berkeley’s history, broke ground ceremoniously Tuesday morning.

A collaboration between BRIDGE Housing and the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, the development is located at 2012 Berkeley Way and will provide 89 affordable homes to low- and very low-income families, 53 permanent supportive housing apartments to formerly homeless residents and 12 transitional beds for homeless veterans, according to Calleene Egan, executive director of the Berkeley Food and Housing Project.

The space will include in-house medical and mental health services, as well as a community kitchen and dining space for residents to share meals and offer support.

According to Terrie Light, former executive director of the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, the project was first proposed in 2003.

“We always wanted this building with integrated services, everything in one place,” Light said at the event. “We wanted a building with pure support.”

Egan added that the project aims to bring people experiencing homelessness together to offer shared experiences, encouragement and hope.

Berkeley City Councilmember Kate Harrison called the project a “win-win” for Downtown Berkeley residents.

“This project is a bright spot in a dark time,” Harrison said at the event. “As residents, we’re going to find that our streets are in better shape because we have a place for people to be housed.”

Harrison added that the development is considered a “transit-first project” — the housing units are only two blocks away from a BART station.

Brad Wiblin, executive vice president of BRIDGE Housing, said the project will serve as an “economic development engine.” He estimates that the project will create hundreds of essential construction jobs.

“To deliver housing that’s affordable to formerly homeless individuals or to low-income working families really takes a partnership,” Wiblin said at the event. “The city has been a phenomenal partner.”

According to the Berkeley Food and Housing Project website, the structure will be completed in 2022.

Contact Victoria Stafford at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @VictoriaStaffrd.