Rev. Dr. Kenneth Anderson, senior pastor of Williams Chapel Baptist Church, concerned about Oakland’s declining African American population and consequently the corresponding decline in church attendance, has spearheaded an effort to build housing.
Although Rev. Anderson is a millennial minister who is still in his mid-thirties, he has a special mission to provide some “truly affordable housing for low-income seniors.”
He says his congregation supports his plan to build 88 apartments of affordable housing for low-income seniors in the first phase of a development at the corner of 10th Avenue and International Boulevard.
The church owns the land and has approved the construction of a ground level, 10,000-square-foot community center.
Rev. Anderson says his boldness comes from sitting at the feet of those who have accomplished “great things for their congregations like my uncle the late Rev. Carl Anderson, who moved and rebuilt the great cathedral structure of the St. John Baptist Church in Oakland.”
He also says he carefully studied how the late J.L Richard built housing for his congregation and how Rev. Frank Pinkard “has adroitly kept Evergreen housing and community programs active.”
Anderson says he is standing on the shoulders of Allen Temple Baptist’s Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith Sr. and Rev. Cecil Williams, whose Glide Memorial complex serves thousands.
During last year’s political campaign for Alameda County’s measure A1 affordable housing bond, Anderson hosted a rally to educate his congregants and the surrounding community by inviting political leaders that included Nancy Skinner, Wilma Chan and Abel Guillen.
After the $580 million bond measure passed, Anderson contacted Beacon Communities to help secure financing to go with his plan to add low-income housing tax credits to his funding package of $52 million.
He is looking to access the city’s Measure KK funds under the category of faith-based institutions.
Even though he has been the pastor for just six years, he says he must answer the call “of the housing, employment and survival needs of the common man.”
“If my uncle were alive today I would testify to him that I wanted to build affordable housing at a discounted rate. If you can afford $800 to $900 month in rent, we can help you. That is our goal.”
“For my millennial generation – known as generation ‘Y’ – we know that the seniors have been hospitable and caring to us. And since African Americans are now being pushed out of the city against their wishes, we must show that we care by providing them with a safe place and a way to stay here.”
“I am guided by the teachings of Jesus, who asked where we were when those were hungry and in need.”
Next week part 4: “How to Develop Financing.”