Groundbreaking 10-27 for Habitat’s First-Ever Development in Walnut Creek



(Oakland, CA) The public is invited to the groundbreaking for Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley’s Pleasant Creek Homes development, a new ten-home community to be built in Walnut Creek, to take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 27 at 1935 Barkley Avenue.

With shovels in hand, civic and community leaders, donors and volunteers will mark the beginning of a joint effort to begin building the new housing community. The site is located east of I-680, adjacent to at Hillside Drive and Ygnacio Valley Road, just a short walk to the Walnut Creek BART Station.

Present at the ground breaking will be Walnut Creek Mayor Bob Simmons, Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley CEO Janice Jensen, and representatives from sponsoring organizations and families.

The ten Pleasant Creek Homes house designs are simple, modestly sized and are designed to serve the needs of low to moderate-income working families. The necessity for affordable work force housing in Walnut Creek is high as the city draws more workers than any community in Contra Costa County. The Habitat homes are two story duplexes and triplexes. They have two, three and four bedrooms and have been designed by local architect Geoffrey Holton & Associates for energy efficiency. They are Green Point rated and feature Energy Star appliances. Through a generous grant from PG&E through the Solar Habitat Program, all new Habitat homes will also have solar panels.

The homes are set on an in-fill parcel of land next to the I-680 freeway made available by Caltrans. The land has been vacant from the time the Highway 24/Highway 680 exchange was built. With the assistance of the City of Walnut Creek, which had first right to the property, the land was offered to Habitat for Humanity. Because the site was not large enough to make a development financially feasible, Habitat approached the owner of an adjacent lot who donated the land. The owner, Ms. Pat Stull, donated the land in memory of her late husband and requested that the 10-home community be named Pleasant Creek Homes.

“We are very grateful for the unprecedented local community support for these new homes,” said Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley CEO Janice Jensen. “Our partnership with Mayor Bob Simmons and the talented staff of the City of Walnut Creek; the invaluable assistance of our State Senator, Mark DeSaulnier; the continued support and generosity of the Lesher Foundation; along with important donations by many local faith communities, businesses, foundations, and individual donors; are making the dream of homeownership a reality for deserving families.”
“The development has a wide range of unique funding – including the proceeds of a 3000-mile bike fundraiser by supporters who are over 70 years of age; an “All Faiths Home” funded by a large interfaith group of volunteers and donors; a home funded entirely by our Women’s Crew, along with grass roots events, bake sales, concerts and more,” Jensen said.

Following the ground breaking, community volunteers and new homeowners, using Habitat’s sweat equity down payment program, will build their homes and the homes of their neighbors. When the development is completed in 2014, these new Habitat families will have a simple, decent and affordable place to call home with a no-profit mortgage held by Habitat.

Support for the project has come from the City of Walnut Creek ($1,050,000 in Redevelopment Agency, CDBG, and other funding), Contra Costa County ($320,000 in HOME funding); State of California Department of Housing and Community Development ($1,319,500 in CalHome, BEGIN, and CSHHP funds), and funding from Presidio Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco’s Affordable Housing Program, sponsored by Meriwest Bank and Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program funding.

The City of Walnut Creek successfully sought a State of California “Safe Routes to Transit” grant and was able to obtain $1,000,000 to provide a new public sidewalk and safety lighting immediately adjacent to the Habitat development. The grant also continues the public walkway and makes possible, for the first time, a safe crossing of the very busy Hillside Avenue/Ygnacio Valley Road across the 680 freeway entrance. The new pedestrian walkway, a traffic signal button and crosswalk striping will be installed. Commuters, pedestrians, bicyclists and those who live in this neighborhood will have safe access to the nearby Walnut Creek BART Station, N. California Boulevard and downtown Walnut Creek.

Walnut Creek has more than 1.5 times the number of jobs than residents, but few suitable parcels are available for the development of new homes. The city attracts more workers than any other community in Central Contra Costa County. These homes will help address housing challenges of hardworking families with limited incomes and at the same time develop safe, sustainable homes and stabilize the neighborhood.

In addition to Government support, the development has also received significant contributions from private and community donors, including:

The Dean and Margaret Lesher Community Foundation – ($250,000) Long-time supporters of Habitat’s work in Contra Costa County, the foundation is dedicated to funding programs that assist children and families, especially those in need. Previously, the foundation has supported Habitat’s efforts in Contra Costa County, providing $100,000 to sponsor a new home in Bay Point’s El Rincon development. The Foundation has also supported Habitat’s work rehabilitating existing foreclosed homes as part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program with a $150,000 contribution. Since 1999, The Foundation’s investment in Habitat’s work in Contra Costa County has exceeded $650,000.

Bob Frick and Len Holmes’ Cycle of Hope 2 – ($160,000) This is the second time that the Lafayette resident and now 75-year old cyclist Bob Frick has set out to ride his bicycle to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. His first ride in 2008 was a cross country success and he far exceeded his fundraising goal. This time, with his friend Len Holmes, the two men rode the Lewis and Clark Trail beginning at the Pacific Ocean, across the Western states, to St. Louis, Mo. Together, they have raised over $160,000 to help support the construction of two Habitat homes. Their long journey was also made possible by Bob’s wife Barbara, who drove their support car. Bob and Len successfully completed their ride in August of this year.

PG&E – ($125,000) Pacific Gas and Electric Company has provided over $1.5 million total contributions to Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley through its Solar Habitat program to fund the cost of photovoltaic systems on every new Habitat home. PG&E’s recent gift furthers its efforts to provide affordable, renewable energy in the communities it serves. PG&E is an important partner in Habitat’s green building effort.

The Gagen Family – ($100,000) Bill and Marianne Gagen have made this significant contribution in memory and in honor of Marianne’s parents, Neil and Amelia McDaniel. A life-long entrepreneur, Neil McDaniel worked in commercial real estate, consumer products and the automotive after market industries. He strongly believed in volunteer service, served on the boards of many non-profit organizations and was a generous benefactor. Amelia McDaniel was a teacher who believed strongly in the value of a quality education. She continued as a volunteer tutor for years after she retired from teaching. Bill and Marianne Gagen founded the Neil W. and Amelia G. McDaniel Charitable Trust to address the needs of the local community.

All Faiths House – ($100,000) Dozens of communities of faith have come together to fund and build a home to help hard-working families with limited incomes live in Walnut Creek. Among the churches participating are Hope Center Covenant Church, St. John Vianney Catholic Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Asbury United Methodist Church, Lafayette Christian Church, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Temple Isaiah, Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, Danville Congregational Church, Lafayette United Methodist Church, St. Joan of Arc Parish, First Christian Church Concord and Shell Ridge Community Church. Support has also been received from Central Contra Costa and Tri-Valley Interfaith groups. Inspired by the concept of an All Faiths House, an anonymous donor has made a pledge to match every dollar raised by this interfaith effort up to an additional $100,000!

All Women’s Crew – ($100,000) Founded in 1994, this dedicated group has empowered women to learn skills and build friendships, and has made significant contributions to Habitat’s mission in the Bay Area, helping dozens of low-income families build their homes. They build as a team on regular build days each month and raise funds to support their efforts.

HEDCO Foundation – ($66,384) This locally-based foundation supports a variety of philanthropic projects concentrating on scientific and medical research, educational institutions and social welfare groups. Their goal is to support programs that improve the quality of life for all peoples. This is the first time HEDCO Foundation has made a grant to Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley. HEDCO’s funding will cover the cost of the foundations at this development.

The Morris Family Sponsorship – ($50,000) Sally and Dave Morris have been long-time supporters of Habitat’s home building efforts. They chose to invest in the Pleasant Creek Homes development as a tribute to the City of Walnut Creek for having provided a wonderful environment and great place to raise their family. Dave has been a hands-on volunteer working on Habitat’s rehabilitation of area homes abandoned in the foreclosure crisis, part of the national Neighborhood Stabilization Program. As donors to Habitat East Bay, they have introduced many of their friends and colleagues to the work of the organization, including the Valentine family. Together with the Valentine family, they will jointly fund a home in the Pleasant Creek Homes community.

Valentine Capital’s Charitable Giving Initiative – ($50,000) With a clear vision and enviable track record of giving back to the community, Valentine Capital has supported over one hundred local non-profit organizations in its local community. John Valentine, founder and Chief Investment Strategist for the wealth management company, along with company staffers and the Morris Family, will join the Habitat volunteers and others to work shoulder to shoulder to help build the new, sustainable and affordable homes.

Thomas J. Long Foundation – ($25,000) Based in Walnut Creek, this foundation was begun by the founder of Longs Drugstores, Thomas J. Long. It supports local charitable organizations, that provide programs and services benefiting and inspiring the people of the communities were they live, work and play. Dedicated to philanthropy, Mr. Long began his foundation in 1972 by making grants to local charities. Giving back to the communities that helped him to succeed in business is a core value still embraced by the Foundation. Thomas J. Long Foundation’s $25,000 grant towards the Pleasant Creek Homes development is the Foundation’s first contribution to Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley.

Others involved in the Pleasant Creek project include: Carlson, Barbee & Gibson (Civil Engineer); St. Onge & Associates (Structural Engineer); David Widelock Landscape Design (Landscape Architect); and Rockridge Geotechnical, Inc. (Geotechnical Engineer).

About Habitat For Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley
Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope. We revitalize neighborhoods, build affordable and sustainable housing solutions, and empower families through successful homeownership. Since 1986, we have partnered with volunteers, the community, and qualified families with limited incomes to strengthen communities in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara Counties. Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley is the largest Habitat affiliate in Northern California. We envision simple, decent, affordable homes in safe neighborhoods for all families.

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