In San Leandro, 115 Affordable Units and 18,000 Lined Up to Get In

Roughly 18,000 people have expressed interest in the Marea Alta affordable housing development in San Leandro. (Courtesy of Bridge Housing)

If you’re not convinced yet of the desperate demand for affordable housing in the Bay Area, consider San Leandro’s Marea Alta development: Roughly 18,000 prospective tenants say they’d like one of the building’s 115 affordable units.

That works out to 156 people vying for each apartment being built.

“It just speaks volumes to the extent of the affordability crisis in the Bay Area,” says Adhi Nagraj, director of development for BRIDGE Housing, which is behind the project.

And it’s not just BRIDGE Housing that is seeing more people who want affordable apartments but can’t get them. Throughout the Bay Area, waitlists are thousands of people long.

The Marea Alta affordable housing development in San Leandro is a modular construction, meaning the units are built off site and then assembled together with a large crane on site.
The Marea Alta affordable housing development in San Leandro is a modular construction, meaning the units are built off-site and then assembled together with a large crane on-site. (Courtesy of Bridge Housing)

For example, around 40 people were vying for every affordable unit built by MidPen Housing at one of its developments in Fremont in 2011, says communications specialist Kim Ish.

The number of people expected to apply for the nonprofit’s most recent Fremont building would blow that out of the water. Roughly 7,000 names are on the “interest list” for 64 affordable apartments, she says.

In El Cerrito, Resources for Community Development received 1,088 applications for 57 units in its recently completed Ohlone Gardens building.

Around 10,000 people expressed interest for affordable apartment buildings near MacArthur BART Station and Lake Merritt, according to BRIDGE Housing officials. When the time came to apply, each received roughly 5,000 applications.

After an affordable housing development is leased up, waitlists can still have thousands of people on them. That’s the case for East Bay Asian Local Development Corp. properties. A spokesperson for the nonprofit says waitlists often range between 2,000 and 3,000 applicants.

The demand for affordable housing doesn’t leave much room for optimism when your name is pitted against thousands of others. In many instances it comes down to a lottery.

That was true for DeJana Curry, 26, who just received the keys to her new affordable apartment near Oakland’s Lake Merritt. She told KQED recently that she believes having her own place will improve her relationship with her mother and with her own 5-year-old girl, Londyn.

Some of the roughly 18,000 people who have expressed interest in BRIDGE Housing’s Marea Alta building near San Leandro BART will have a chance to apply for an apartment this spring, says Nagraj.

Marea Alta will have studios and apartments with one, two or three bedrooms with monthly rents ranging between $493 and $1,155, depending on income and apartment size.

Preference will be given to individuals or families who live or work in San Leandro. There will be a lottery to determine which applications get viewed first, Nagraj says.

Only 115 families will get a spot. Most people will have to wait.

In San Leandro, 115 Affordable Units and 18,000 Lined Up to Get In 9 February,2016Devin Katayama

  • How is this different from playing the Lottery? Other than maybe better odds?

    Here’s a rewrite of the headline: “Upcoming Housing Lottery: approximately a 1 out of 1,800 Chance to Stay in the Bay Area– Everyone Else Has to Move to the Central Valley” (the math may be a little off there).

    I’ll take my chance on the my parish’s Ham Bingo, thank you very much.

    Here’s another question– at what point do people start sliding a couple grand to government officials to get access to housing? I’m thinking we’re past that point.


Devin Katayama

Devin Katayama is a reporter covering the East Bay for KQED News. Previously, he was the education reporter for WFPL in Louisville and worked as a producer with radio stations in Chicago and Portland, OR. His work has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, The Takeaway and Here and Now.

Devin earned his MA in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago, where he was a Follett Fellow and the recipient of the 2011 Studs Terkel Community Media Workshop Scholarship for his story on Chicago’s homeless youth. He won WBUR’s 2014 Daniel Schorr award and a regional RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for his documentary “At Risk” that looked at issues facing some of Louisville’s students. Devin has also received numerous local awards from the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Email: Twitter: @RadioDevin Website:

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