Building a Better Bay Area: City of Oakland begins new affordable housing project

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Today after years of trying to build more stable housing, a small community in Oakland finally saw its efforts become a reality.

On this wet and dreary day in Oakland, there was a 64-acre-reason to celebrate.

"Oh this is a beautiful day for us, this is 16 years coming," expressed Andy Nelsen of the Brooklyn Basin Community Coalition.

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Since 2004 residents of Chinatown and the East Lake and San Antonio have been complaining about high rents in an effort to push the city to build places they can afford to live.

2004 seems like a long time ago. Jerry Brown was mayor, the Warriors couldn't even visualize being in the playoffs. There was a recession, and from 2009 to 2016 not much was being built in Oakland. But in the past two years, things have changed.

There will be 3,100 homes built. 465 of those units fall under the category of "affordable."

"This is the largest project to start construction in the city of Oakland in years," said Jan Lindenthal of MidPen Housing, the developer of the affordable housing units.

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According to the Mayor's office, nearly 9,000 housing units in all of Oakland are under construction, with just as many in the pipeline. Still, Libby Schaaf told us when it comes to affordable housing, the city is not even close to the need.

"Yesterday I helped open 28 new units of affordable housing, 4,000 families applied for those 28 units," said Schaaf.

Like in other cities, finding the funding to subsidize these projects has been a challenge, but last November California approved a $4 billion bond for existing affordable housing projects for low-income families.

Mayor Schaaf says that's just the beginning. Cities, she says, have to invest more in affordable housing.

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