Who Lives in Affordable Housing?

Who lives in affordable housing?  Seniors, families with children, people facing health challenges or disabilities, or those who simply are starting a new phase of life – in short, people of all backgrounds. Meet a few of the inspiring individuals and families who live in affordable homes.  For more inspiring stories, see EBHO’s recent Affordable Housing Guidebooks.

Tyishea Collins, Three Oaks by EAH Housing, Pleasant Hill

Tyishea Collins

Tyishea Collins, like many others in the East Bay, faced adversity in her life that made it difficult to find housing at a price she could afford that would accommodate her family. Due to circumstances that left her nephew orphaned and the father of her son deceased, Tyishea was raising not only her own son Melvin, but her nephew DaWauntea and Tonisha, the sister of her son’s father. “The challenge was making sure that I could afford to take care of all of them and this place has given me all the opportunity to be able to do it and save at the same time.”

Tyishea was determined to find a home that was safe, clean, and big enough for her to be able to raise the three kids she loved in the healthy environment they all deserved.  Tyishea has lived at the Oaks Apartments with her family for five years now. She works ten minutes away in Concord at Bank of America, and is happy to be close to her children’s schools. The stability and easier commute enabled her to focus on work and earn a promotion. Thanks to the affordable rent, Tyishea is now able to pay for 9-year-old Melvin and 10-year-old DaWauntea to participate in organized sports as well as save for their futures. Tonisha, Tyishea says, has completely changed since living here, and is now a mature 17-year-old, studying at Treasure Island Job Corps. “It’s a tight community – It’s like a village,” Tyishea said of the Oaks Apartments, “We’re all raising each other’s kids.”


Mr. Zhang, St. Mary’s Garden, Oakland

Mr. Zhang is a retired English Literature professor from Northern China. He moved to California with his wife a few years ago to be closer to their two children. “When I came to America I was as poor as a church mouse!” Mr. Zhang said  After living with their children, Mr. and Mrs. Zhang decided to begin applying for low-income housing so that they could live independently. In 2010 Mr. and Mrs. Zhang were accepted into St. Mary’s Gardens, where they have been living happily ever since.

“When we go to Chinatown we can walk. It is very convenient,” Mr. Zhang said. “We can walk in the courtyard in the gardens, and that is very important for us.”   As an active and friendly resident, Mr. Zhang was elected to be the Resident Representative for St.Mary’s Gardens. Mr. Zhang’s leadership reflects his support for affordable housing. “If there was no such kind of apartments for low income people, I could not live here. I would go back to China,” Mr. Zhang said. St. Mary’s Gardens has enabled him “to live in America with my children and see my grandchildren.”