Over 100 community members recently gathered to celebrate the grand opening of Acts Cyrene Apartments at 9400 International Boulevard. The 59-unit mixed used family development in East Oakland at 94th avenue was 10 years in the making, the dream of Bishop Bob Jackson, founder, and pastor of Acts Full Gospel Church of God in Christ (AFGC) on 66th avenue in Oakland.
Jackson beside his wife, Barbara Ann, took the podium beaming with happiness and pride in seeing the project come to fruition. “I am so thrilled to complete this affordable housing complex, so we can continue to put the neighbor back in the hood,” said Jackson.
In a unique partnership between the City of Oakland, Related California, the Oakland Housing Authority and Acts Community Development Corporation (ACDC), the project came together to create affordable housing in East Oakland. The site features state of the art one to three bedroom apartments featuring a fitness center, business center, picnic area, basketball, clubhouse and among other amenities. The location will also include 3500 square feet of retail space fronting International Boulevard between 94th and 96th Streets. The land for the project land was donated by the ACDC that raised and invested several million dollars in the project.
With a looming housing crisis throughout the bay area, Jackson says he will continue to build and form partnerships so that the homeless and working class can have affordable housing options.
A soon-to-be resident of the complex, Alisha Chambers attended with her newborn. She shared of how the rising cost of housing left her and her four children living among relatives and public spaces for the last five years.
“Over 6000 people applied to live here for 59 units, so we want to continue to work toward solutions to alleviate this housing crisis,” he said. “Many have had to move to Antioch, Vallejo, and Stockton and we want people to be able to stay in Oakland,” said Jackson who has relentlessly sought to increase affordable housing in Oakland and combat the impact of gentrification that displaces people of color disproportionately.
Jackson said the 10-year undertaking required perseverance and teamwork. Oakland City Council President Larry Reid who worked closely with Jackson joked about Jackson’s perseverance and persuasive tactics when the project appeared to stall.
“Bishop was not going to take ‘No’ or ‘We can’t do it,’ as an option and he had no reservations about letting me know this,” he joked. Reid thanked Oakland City Council Policy Analyst, Ray Leon for his help and coordination, just as Jackson gave heartfelt thanks to his associate pastor, Mark Claybrooks. “When I couldn’t make it to a meeting, Mark was always there, carrying the charge to get this project done,” said Jackson. Jackson already has plans to build another complex of senior housing right across the street from the Cyrene Apartments.
Speakers representing the Oakland Housing Authority and William A. Witte, Chairman, and CEO of Related California, addressed the audience. Dozens of community leaders, such as Councilmembers Lynette McElhaney and Abel Guillen came out for the ribbon cutting and reception. AFGC church members on the scene included Elder Edgar Allen, Chief Administrative Officer George Matthews, Juanita Walker, Sandy Claybrooks, Denise Emile, Marlinda Thorne, Annette Allen and others.
“Our bishop is all about transforming the community and creating change in East Oakland and the city,” said Emile. “He even named the complex Cyrene for its significance in the Bible – how special is that,” added Claybrooks.