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Building affordable housing, generational wealth

Kaiser Permanente partners with Habitat for Humanity and others to create 42 Walnut Creek townhomes. Pictured, employee volunteers recently worked on everything from foundations to rooftops.

Under the hot September sun, 25 Kaiser Permanente employee and physician volunteers recently spent an afternoon working on a new affordable housing community in Walnut Creek — Esperanza Place.

Kaiser Permanente partnered with Habitat for Humanity, the City of Walnut Creek, and the Lesher Foundation to break ground on Esperanza Place a year ago. The contemporary community is nestled along the Iron Horse Trail, which is close to BART and nearby amenities.

“Esperanza Place increases access to homeownership, along with a host of positive health, financial, and educational outcomes,” said Janice Jensen, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley. “Most important, it will give people a chance to build generational wealth.”

The 42 townhomes of Esperanza Place will be located in 8 buildings, with a central community space designed for neighbors to gather and children to play. Esperanza Place was designed for Zero Net Energy, which means its rooftop solar panels will produce more energy than the buildings will consume.

Kaiser Permanente, a development sponsor, has pledged $400,000 over the next 4 years. Support of Esperanza Place is part of Kaiser Permanente’s larger commitment to affordable housing and addressing homelessness because stable housing is critical to good health.

Making dreams come true

On a recent Saturday, volunteers worked on everything from foundations to rooftops.

One of the participants, Rose Baty, volunteers on Habitat build days whenever she can. On Thanksgiving Day 2014, she received keys to her Habitat home in San Pablo. It was a turning point for the single mother of 3, who today works in the Surgery Department at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center.

During the past few years, Baty has finished raising her children while working on a master’s degree in counseling. She got married in June and said the encouragement she received from Habitat for Humanity made it all possible.

A drawing of what the townhomes will look like when building is completed.

“I’m so thankful for Habitat,” she said. “There’s no way I could have sent 3 kids off to college without having my Habitat home. That’s why I come out to volunteer whenever I can. Someone did this for me, and I’m always open and willing to do this for someone else. I’m grateful for this program because it has given me a place of peace, and it has given my children a place of tranquility.”

“It’s a great day to make a difference,” said Chris Boyd, Kaiser Permanente senior vice president and area manager. “We’re all out here building a better future for our community. The partnership we have with Habitat for Humanity is going to make dreams come true for people in our local community.”

Patti Wang Cross is the communications manager for Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley. She said Saturday was an important day because it will impact the lives of Esperanza Place’s future residents.

“We really need all the help we can get,” she added. “We’re very lucky to have our partners at Kaiser Permanente out here in force, putting their hearts and hands on these homes to get the job done.”


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