The Dream Survives in California Affordable Housing for the Homeless
By: Mark Fogarty
NH&RA, November 2022 issue
Martin Luther King’s dream is continually being reinvented, enduringly so in California, where Dr. King’s assassination in 1968 spurred an ecumenical group of clergy and laymen in the Golden State’s Marin County to begin a project to build affordable housing that has continued to this day.
Under construction right now is Pointe on La Brea, a Los Angeles affordable development offering supportive housing to the formerly homeless, joining two similar developments done by nonprofit EAH Housing of San Rafael (EAH comes from the name of that original1968 group, the Ecumenical Association for Housing, founded by Martin Mackey).
“There was a group of like-minded individuals from varying backgrounds that wanted to address social justice through housing,” says Welton Jordan, chief real estate development officer and assistant secretary at the now 750-employee EAH. “That was how EAH was started, and it has grown tremendously over the past 50 years.”
The developer/manager now has a $1.8 billion development pipeline of around 45 projects and manages housing for some 25,000people. According to its website, it has developed 13,000 units in 106 properties in 92 towns at a cost of $2.2 billion.
It was Dr. King who provided the original spark for the group.
“After his assassination, this group got together and created EAH. The “E” is Ecumenical, so these were people from varying religious backgrounds in Marin County. It started in Marin, and then spread across the state of California and ultimately, Hawaii,” says Jordan.
“It got to be larger than they ever thought it would be.”