OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Civil rights icon Elaine Brown is leading the way for turning Seventh Street in West Oakland back into the “Harlem of the West.”
On the corner of 7th and Campbell streets, Brown and her nonprofit organization, Oakland & the World Enterprises, are co-developing 79 affordable housing units for very low income families.
“This is an investment. An investment in reducing recidivism, in reducing crime, and reducing poverty,” said Brown, a former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party. “I never thought that I would live to be 80-years-old and still be able to do something for our people.”
Construction on the building, named The Black Panther, began last year. The $80-million project is scheduled to be completed next April.
The project is also helping turn former foster youth and formerly incarcerated Oaklanders into business owners. Brown said, “If you fall down, we’re gonna pick you up.”
Five businesses will open on the building’s ground floor, including Cortne Digby’s restaurant, Tule.
Digby said he “got in a little trouble when I was young. Originally from Chicago. But I always had a passion for food and that’s pretty much my love-language. So, you know, if I can give back, it’ll be a great meal.”
Brown is still looking for more investors to secure $10 million for launching businesses.