South Berkeley Photo: altiemae/Flickr

With notorious drug houses and reports of increasing crime, you could argue that South Berkeley has a bad rap. But efforts are being made to change that.

Thanks to the vision of non-profit developer Devin Ellin of Satellite Affordable Housing Associates, construction on The Harper Crossing apartments, a new low-income housing development for seniors, broke ground February 23rd.

The four-story apartment building is located at 3231 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, across the street from Ashby BART. It will have 42 one-bedroom apartments with fives of those units designated for households with at least one person living with HIV/AIDS. It is expected to be ready for residents by spring 2017

As reported by Inside Bay Area, Councilman Max Anderson sees this as a way to instill affordable housing in a community that’s changing quickly. “We’ve lost so many working-class people, low-income people and elderly people in this community, due to the regional and local economic forces that favor market-rate housing, resulting in a demographic shift, from diversity to exclusion,” Anderson told Inside Bay Area.

A few blocks away on Alcatraz Avenue, Youth Spirit Artworks is looking to build a parklet for community use. According to their website, YSA is an “interfaith ‘green’ art jobs and jobs training program committed to empowering homeless and low-income San Francisco Bay Area young people, ages 16-25.”

In a Berkeleyside article about the parklet, 17-year-old Rayven Wilson is quoted as saying, “We want the parklet to show what the South Berkeley community can produce.” It will go alongside the mural pictured above that shows South Berkeley musicians and community members.

YSA has been hard at work on the parklet designs, and plans to apply for a city permit within the month.

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