If you watched the Academy Awards last month, you may have caught sight of two BRIDGE properties. Academic and political activist Angela Davis was interviewed at the 16th Street Train Station in West Oakland in director Ava DuVernay’s “13th,” which explores the intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the U.S.
And the winning documentary feature, “O.J.: Made in America,” included footage from O.J. Simpson’s early days as a Potrero public housing resident.
While these cameos are thrilling, they also point to the reality of many communities where BRIDGE works. At the historically significant station, the Baggage Wing was the West Coast organizing home for the first African American union in the country: the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. West Oakland has also gained renown as a hotbed for gentrification, as the Bay Area’s housing supply has been far outpaced by job growth. BRIDGE is proud to have developed more than 700 affordable apartments in West Oakland over the years, and to have delivered retail space to the neighborhood as well as a new home for a high-performing public charter school that serves local families.
Across San Francisco Bay, on the south side of Potrero Hill, are some 600 distressed units of public housing, originally built in the 1940s and ’50s. The economic and social contrasts between the north and south sides of the hill are extreme. Average income on the north side: $145,000, compared with $14,000 on the south. Crime on the south side is five times that of the city at large. Earlier this year, under the auspices of HOPE SF and after many years of creating a vision with the community, assembling approvals and lining up financing, BRIDGE began the first phase of construction. The comprehensive revitalization effort will rebuild all public housing units and create another 1,000 new homes with a range of affordability, community and open space, and social services to improve the lives of current and future generations in the neighborhood.
These are but two examples of places where BRIDGE is making an impact and countering issues of displacement and deterioration. Our construction and development pipeline of more than 7,000 apartments includes places as diverse as Jordan Downs in Watts, Los Angeles; the Eliot neighborhood in North/Northeast Portland; San Francisco’s Mission District; and Cornelius, OR. What these places have in common is a dire need for affordability and community investment that will complement the strengths of the people who already live there. It is a privilege for BRIDGE to do this work, and I am grateful to all of our partners, our hardworking team and our Board for their persistence and dedication.