A 100 percent affordable housing project will break ground in West Oakland in November with the help of a former Black Panther Party leader.

In 2014, former Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown bought the land at Seventh and Campbell streets where the new housing will take shape.

The three-quarter acre lot in the Lower Bottoms neighborhood had been vacant and blighted for more than 30 years when she bought it.

“This community, which has been plagued with displacement and gentrification, has been waiting decades for decent, affordable housing,” said Keisha Evans, leader of the 7th and Campbell Community Support Committee, which advocates for the West Oakland community.

“We look forward to the rise of the housing complex at 7th and Campbell.”

Not only will the project provide housing, but it will provide opportunities for minority business owners to open shop. Some of those owners may be formerly incarcerated individuals.

Seventy-nine units will be available for rent in the new building, which will also include space for a restaurant, clothing store, light manufacturing operation, a neighborhood market, and a fitness center.

People with very low and extremely low incomes and those with incomes of 30 percent of area median income will be able to rent a home in the building.

Services will be provided for residents who have suffered from chronic homelessness and for residents with other special needs.

Cathy Adams, president and CEO of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, said, “This (the project) is for the community.”

Tens of thousands of square feet of rooftop solar panels will power all the apartments. A farm is presently on the site and will be present in the new building, Adams said.

Brown is the CEO of the nonprofit Oakland and the World Enterprises, which is partnering with McCormack Baron Salazar on the development.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.