A Berkeley, Calif.-based developer established solely to increase affordable housing, has added 20 more units to its forces in the battle to combat homelessness. Affordable Housing Associates is reserving these units in its newly opened Madison @ 14th Apartments in nearby Oakland, Calif., exclusively for area teenagers who have “aged out” of foster care.
“It's harsh when you are 18 and leaving the system and have to fend for yourself,” says AHA Deputy Executive Director Kevin Zwick. “Helping foster youth is a key way to combat homelessness.”
Madison @ 14th is providing a total of 79 permanently affordable apartments for low-income families and foster youth. The project also will offer support services through a partnership with the Oakland-based nonprofit First Place for Youth, an organization that helps individuals once in foster care transition to adulthood by providing them with the skills and training necessary to survive independently.
Designed by San Francisco-based architects Leddy Maytum and Stacy, Madison @ 14th was awarded a Bay Area regional Design Award by the American Institute of Architects. The project includes landscaped open space, abundant natural light, and green features including photovoltaic solar panels to provide energy for common areas.
“What's exciting for us is we are able to design quality architecture for a program that provides quality programming for foster youth,” says project architect Charlie Stott.
When it opened in June, Madison @ 14th had a waiting list of 3,000, including 150 former foster youth, Zwick says. The response was welcomed for a project that took seven years to complete. Zwick says this was largely due to having to navigate multiple parties through complicated state and city funding and entitlement processes.
This type of housing—green and urban infill—is so important,” Zwick says. “It is worth all of the effort.”