Crossroads, First Green Homeless Shelter

Crossroads

There’s an excellent article in NY Times on what’s believed to be the first green homeless shelter in the country.  It’s an extraordinary $11 M shelter.  Homeless shelters usually operate out of an old warehouse or derelict building, but this place, Crossroads, is different.  It’s a reality primarily as a result of the tenacity of Wendy Jackson, executive director of the East Oakland Community Project of Alameda County.  After seven long years and lots of hard work, Jackson was able to make it happen.  The newly finished, modern building accommodates 125 residents.

The article, I think, hits on a big point.  Many of the residents that visit shelters have asthma, allergies, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, etc., and a building such as this is a healthy, green space.  Thus, in addition to the solar panels, there’s green tech such as hydronic heating, hip ceiling fans, nontoxic paints, operable windows, and natural furniture.  These technologies have health benefits, and when we think of ‘green’ buildings, we’re not only talking about energy or water, we’re talking about mental, physical, and spiritual health. 

Crossroads design

Crossroadsbeds

Via NY Times from tweets of both AIDG and elaineishere.  If you’re on twitter, follow me and my friends — there’s great conversation about stuff like this article in NY Times. 


  • http://greenbuildingelements.com/ Philip Proefrock

    This is a good trend, and it’s happening in a number of places. The article calls it, “maybe the only “green” homeless shelter built from the ground up,” but I think even that is a stretch.

    There are a number of homeless shelters and SROs that are following green building guidelines of one sort or another.

    I know of two in Chicago, with big-name architect connections, to boot. There’s the Near North Apartments by Helmut Jahn:
    http://greenbuildingelements.com/2007/12/05/sustainable-architecture-benefits-chicagos-underprivileged/

    There’s also Pacific Garden Mission, Chicago’s oldest and largest homeless shelter, by Stanley Tigerman:
    http://greenbean.typepad.com/greenbean/2006/10/pacific_garden_.html

    There’s also the Plaza Apartments in San Francisco which offers transitional housing for low-income and formerly homeless residents:
    http://greenbuildingelements.com/2007/04/04/green-building-tour-plaza-apartments/

    Those are just what I can think of fairly quickly. I’m certain there are others. Your point about the health benefits is a good one, and one that hasn’t been made often before, I think.

  • http://www.jsaconsultingservices.com Jonathan Austin, JSA Consulting Services

    I am the development consultant and Project Manager for the Crossroads project. I handled finance, worked with the architect (KodamaDiseno Associates) and General Contractor (Oliver and Co.) to complete the project on schedule and within budget. One thing that was not publicized is that much of our incentive in making the shelter sustainable was also to make it financially sustainable. Operating costs at the current shelter leased by the City of Oakland for East Oakland Community Project (the owner of Crossroads) have been difficult to manage, in large part due to utilities costs. By providing a new, well-insulated, energy efficient building with hydronic (modernized steam) heating as well as solar panels and state of the art insulation, EOCP should be able to manage its energy bills, as well as its client services. It’s important to consider financial sustainability in the equation of green building. It did cost more to build the building green, but the long-term savings should be substantial on many levels.

  • http://www.GreenMortgageGroup.com Brian

    Oakland is part of the new Green Corridor project. The 4 neighboring cities of Emeryville, Richmond, and Berkeley are creating opportunities to develop and employ within the Green field. Bringing down the costs of these projects in the area I hope to see more projects incorporate solar.

  • http://www.jsaconsultingservices.com Jonathan Austin, JSA Consulting Services

    We are close to finalizing an investment in the solar panels, which will make their effective cost a little over $100,000, after the California rebate is also factored in. This is from an original price tag of $250,000 for the panels alone. EOCP, as a non-profit, needs to use an investor for the tax credit since, as a non-profit, it does not pay tax.

  • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

    @Jonathan – thanks for sharing your inside perspective on the financial sustainability aspects of the project.

  • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

    @Philip

    Other than Pacific Garden, which I’m unfamiliar with, we’ve featured both Near North Apartments and Plaza Apartments. But you’re right about that “First Green” language.

  • http://www.jsaconsultingservices.com Jonathan Austin, JSA Consulting Services

    Actually, of these, from an affordable housing/shelter standpoint, only the Pacific Garden Mission appears to be a homeless shelter. I am not familiar with it, but from the website that you reference, it certainly appears to be a homeless shelter. The others are *permanent* housing for the *formerly* homeless.

    EOCP’s program is emergency to transitional. There are no apartments, only dorm areas. The family areas have separate rooms but they are not apartments.

    Green Building is becoming much more common in the affordable housing world, as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program regulations in California have adopted a number of Green Building standards as “threshold” requirements. But these standards end up applying to permanent affordable housing. It is unusual enough for a shelter to be built new, let alone with Green Building standards, as Green building is not a requirement in most other programs besides the tax credit program (and there CA is imposing separate requirements from IRS requirements). If this shelter is not the first Green, it is certainly one of the few, and one of the most unique, as well as one of the largest.

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