Strawberry Creek Lodge (SCL) is a non-profit foundation, 501-C3 on file. It is a Residence for middle or low income seniors. The Foundation is run by 11 members of a Board of Trustees. They are all successful business professionals but they volunteer to run SCL, and they work hard with great dedication for the Foundation and it’s resident 158 Seniors.
The building is managed by Christian Church Homes, a non-profit company that specializes in senior housing. CCH is contracted yearly by the SCL Board of Trustees.
The Board members meet monthly at SCL and are always ready to listen to its residents and take action on their concerns.
The residents currently enjoy 53 project-based Section 8 subsidized units. A variety of house services and security/safety services are available such as a Night Manager and 12-hour Front Desk Clerks (all of them also residents) and five days a week there is an on-site Manager, Assistant Manager and two Social Workers, plus a maintenance crew.
These people are very responsive and dedicated to the needs of the tenants and often go out of their way to solve problems and help out beyond the call of duty.
SCL is an oasis in the heart of the City of Berkeley. Strawberry Creek flows out in the open in the back yard. Trees, plants and lawn make one side a beautiful park for all to enjoy. No street touches the Lodge on three sides and the front street is out beyond an ample parking lot. Hence there is no street pollution, and no noise pollution disturbs the residents. Who would not like to live in such a location with affordable housing?
The Strawberry Tenants’ Association is unique: resilient, responsible for a high quality life and famous all over the nation for its activities. According to HUD rules and with the Board of Trustees encouragement, resident participation is very strong at all levels. As a result of this, for the last three years, the rent has increased 0%. Residents feel free to pursue their own activities and talents.
The Tenants Association is very strong and it is listened to by the Board of Trustees. Individual Board Members meet with Tenant Committees over various issues at the Lodge that need resolution. There is a Quality of Life Committee that meets monthly for this purpose. Tenants have representatives to (and many residents attend) the Board Meetings and are heard. For example, when a Tenant Association Motion was presented at the March 19th Board Meeting regarding not moving or disturbing old and frail tenants during the current rehab project, it was unanimously agreed to.
It is true that rehabilitation is going on at the Lodge to bring it back to HUD and Section 8 acceptable conditions. This rehabilitation is necessary in order to maintain HUD standards and to qualify for 23 more project-based Section 8 units and to keep the building at affordable rents. The disturbances and problems that arise from such a project, especially where older people remain in place. We are in the process of discussion with the Board of Trustees to solve these problems.
For example, in the meeting of March 27th mentioned in the article, Bill Samsel did not speak, it was the Board President who led the discussion of problems with the Rehab Project and he moved around the room with two microphones listening for 2 minutes to nearly every single one of the 75 residents (half the population of the Lodge) as they explained their concerns and fears for two and a half hours.
Since that meeting, many things about the Rehab have been improved and are being changed and more are in the works. Preferences of residents are being recorded and agreed to. Again, this is due to the coordinated efforts of the Tenants Association. All concerns and complaints must go through the TA and that makes the procedure valid and gets results.
Another Correction: Re-Hab work is not financed with loan money from Section 8. HUD subsidy is the source of funding.
Note: Bonnie Davidson and Al Benson agree with the above corrections.