At the EAH Housing Annual Advocacy Event, nonprofit affordable housing developer EAH Housing, advocates and business leaders celebrated the organization’s 45th year anniversary. Residents from EAH communities served as key speakers at the event. The residents shared personal stories to a packed room of more than 200 people and reminded the audience of the lasting impact of affordable housing on the lives of students, families and seniors.
“Creating an affordable housing community is an indescribable feeling, there’s nothing quite like it,” said Mary Murtagh, president and CEO, EAH Housing. “The rewards for creating affordable housing last for generations, from parents to children, to seniors, to people with disabilities, affordable housing builds economic strength and stability in families."
Historically, the EAH Housing Annual Advocacy Event focused on legislative and policy issues surrounding affordable housing development. Past speakers included Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters and Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed. This year, EAH asked residents from Honolulu to Napa to share their personal experiences and serve as key speakers at the event. For EAH Housing, it’s an opportunity to connect affordable housing supporters with the people served by affordable housing communities.
From Napa, 73-year old Donna Joy Schmid shared her story of attempting to find an affordable place to retire. Schmid said, “I did not have a pension from my teaching. I have a partial pension from nine years of part-time pastoring. It was not enough. I knew it would have to be affordable housing.”
From San Jose, EAH Housing Scholarship Fund recipient Trinh Au spoke about her family’s difficulties with the high costs of living in Santa Clara County and their inability to save prior to living at an EAH Housing community. Au said, “Before moving into our current home, my family lived in an expensive two bedroom apartment [with ten people] and my dad’s salary was only able to pay the rent, so we struggled with our other expenses. With affordable housing, my parents were able to save.”
EAH Housing builds strong communities and enhances lives by designing resource coordination programs for each property that include a number of services such as financial literacy, health and wellness, ESL classes, food distribution, parenting classes and the EAH Housing Scholarship Fund.
EAH Housing Scholarship Fund recipients and sisters Esther and Grace Lu were also present and spoke at the event about being granted the scholarship. The two sisters moved from Honolulu to San Francisco to pursue majors in Business Accounting and Business at University of San Francisco (USF). Esther is a two-time recipient attending USF and Grace is a recent 2013 recipient also attending USF.
"My parents never had the chance to attend college so for me going to college is truly a blessing," said Grace Lu, Business Major at San Francisco State University. "With the EAH scholarship, I have a greater chance of pursuing the career that I want. I'm really thankful."
Founded by a group of volunteers in 1968, EAH Housing was created in response to the Civil Rights movement and the belief that quality affordable housing should be available to all. The nonprofit organization grew from an initial coalition of six groups into 24 within a few months. Since then, the organization has expanded its mission throughout California and Hawaii.
EAH Housing serves more than 20,000 residents including families, students, seniors and people with disabilities. EAH has developed more than 7,268 homes and manages 102 properties serving working families, students and seniors in 50 municipalities throughout California and Hawaii.