Kiet Dang stared out the window of his son’s future bedroom on Manila Avenue in Oakland. It was an emotional moment: The hard-working dad still couldn’t believe that he and his wife, Binh Luong, finally have a home of their own. Their 12-year-old son, Phong Dang, will no longer have to sit on the floor to do his homework.
“My son likes to draw, so now he’ll be able to draw and do his homework in his own room,” Dang said. “We really love this house, and soon we will move in. We are so grateful.”
Through a partnership between Habitat for Humanity and Kaiser Permanente, Dang and his family have finally realized their dream of becoming homeowners.
Stable housing helps health
In 2005, Kaiser Permanente purchased 4 single-family homes, including Dang’s, on Manila Avenue while constructing the Oakland Medical Offices on Broadway. In 2020, the homes were donated to Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley and Oakland Community Land Trust as part of Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to provide more stable, affordable housing in local communities.
The homes are part of a much larger effort by Kaiser Permanente Northern California. Since 2019, it has invested $41 million to build and preserve affordable housing for low-income residents.
“Kaiser Permanente recognizes that it’s impossible to maintain good health without a safe and stable place to live,” said Carrie Owen Plietz, FACHE, president of Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s region. “We know the places where we live, learn, work, and play have the greatest influence on our physical, mental, and social well-being.”
“We are excited to be nearing the completion of the rehabilitation of the first of our 2 homes,” said Steve King, executive director of the Oakland Community Land Trust. “This partnership has enabled us to provide affordable ownership for low-income families in North Oakland, something that is increasingly difficult to do given the property values.”
Dang’s new home is a 1912 Craftsman that captures the magic of yesteryear, with shiny updates.
The family of 3 currently lives in a crowded, shared house in San Leandro. Luong must make an appointment to use the kitchen — often late at night.
Now she will be able to cook whenever she feels like it.
‘A beautiful fit’
Kaiser Permanente partnered with Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley and Oakland Community Land Trust because of their commitment to establishing permanent affordable housing for communities that have been disproportionately excluded from home ownership due to income, unfair lending practices, and housing discrimination.
Dang and his family were selected based on their ability to pay an affordable mortgage, their demonstrated need for housing, and their commitment to 250 “sweat equity” hours working alongside volunteers during the extensive renovation.
“I’ve learned how to cut wood and my wife has learned how to use a screwdriver and install doors,” Dang said. “She also was happy to learn how to use a saw with my son. We did a lot of painting, too. The volunteers were so nice, and they gave us very good ideas for the future.”
Habitat for Humanity PR and Events Manager Patti Wang Cross has worked for the organization for almost 20 years. She described the partnership between Habitat for Humanity and Kaiser Permanente as “such a beautiful fit.”
“Stable, healthy housing is foundational for health,” she said. “It’s incredibly gratifying to have an organization like Kaiser Permanente — whose mission is about supporting our community’s health — standing with Habitat to make housing possible for more families.”
Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to Habitat’s work in the Bay Area extends beyond the homes on Manila Avenue. Kaiser Permanente is a key development sponsor of a 42-home Habitat for Humanity affordable community in Walnut Creek, which is expected to be completed in the next 3 years.