The East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative (EB PREC) is a Black women-led cooperative founded in 2017 and incubated out of a partnership between the People of Color Sustainable Housing Network (POCSHN) and the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC). Its transformative mission is to “foster a culture of democracy and cooperation by giving everyone (tenants and investors, alike) an opportunity to co-own and co-manage real estate” in Oakland and the East Bay of San Francisco.
With a focus on the historically disenfranchised Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities of the East Bay, EB PREC has offered an amazing opportunity for Natural Investments’ clients to invest in directly addressing the root problems associated with poverty concentration and neighborhood disinvestment in one of the country’s most important Black communities.
HOW DOES EB PREC WORK?
EB PREC’s innovative structure allows different types of members, holding different roles and responsibilities within the organization, to co-own real estate properties.
- Resident owners and community owners are residents of the community and of the specific real estate projects in which EB PREC has invested. They play an integral role in collaborating with staff owners to manage and develop the property in which they live.
- Staff owners are members who collectively manage EB PREC’s operations and work with resident owners to steward EB PREC’s properties.
- Investor owners invest in EB PREC’s Direct Public Offering (DPO). Though they have the least amount of decision-making power, they benefit from dividends and their ability to place their investment dollars outside Wall Street and the traditional speculative real estate market.
To date, EB PREC has raised $5 million through its DPO, which offers shares at $1,000, with target dividends of 1.5%. These funds, in addition to grant and philanthropic capital, enable EB PREC to fulfill its mission of protecting its community from the forces of gentrification.
EB PREC Has Four Active Real Estate Projects.
- Co-op 789
In 2017, residents of an Oakland apartment complex approached EB PREC to assist in purchasing their building after the landlord placed it on the open market. The purchase closed in 2018 as a partnership between EB PREC and the Northern California Land Trust. EB PREC works with residents to co-manage the property and is in process of completely transitioning ownership from the Land Trust to EB PREC.
- Prince Street
Made possible through the donation of a house to the cooperative by its owner, EB PREC has worked to transform it into a focal point of women-centered arts in the community. It currently houses three Black women artists and educators.
- Altruism Crocus Cooperative
This project supports legacy East Bay residents to acquire property for their intergenerational BIPOC families so they can remain rooted in the community as co-owners.
- Esther’s Orbit Room & Cultural Arts Center
Esther’s is the first step in EB PREC’s “multi-year effort that supports an integrated place-based approach to advancing the collective economic revitalization” of Oakland’s 7th Street Corridor. Once known as the Harlem of the West and a thriving Black business corridor, West Oakland’s 7th Street was decimated by federal intervention in the form of redlining, “urban renewal,” and “modernization” projects that displaced thousands in the 1950s and 1960s. This government-caused blight led to the economic disinvestment and disenfranchisement of West Oakland. Until its closure in 2010, Esther’s was the last vestige of the many iconic Black cultural touchstones that once made up the Corridor.
EB PREC’s 7th Street Cooperative Cultural Corridor (CCC) Revitalization Plan is a partnership with LISC Bay Area, a local organization focused on creating resilient and inclusive communities, to reinvest in neglected community assets through community-led neighborhood development and to reassert the Corridor as an engine of BIPOC-led economic growth, arts, and culture. Esther’s will serve as a model for this kind of development and will be the epicenter of the Black arts and the small business ecosystem that EB PREC is fostering in the Corridor.
Esther’s is a mixed-use commercial and residential development where residents will be able to access services and reestablish it as a community arts hub. The building’s second floor will be affordable housing for 10 artists, while the first floor’s commercial space will be used to recruit, develop, and launch five to 10 small, Black-led cooperative businesses. The space will be available for BIPOC-owned startups at 50% of market rate.
EB PREC closed escrow on the building in September 2021 and has embarked on a community-led design process to discover what exactly the community wants and needs from Esther’s. In 2022, EB PREC began architectural planning and hosted a series of in-person and virtual events including walkthroughs, surveys, happy hours, and live jazz performances to reintroduce the space to the community and work to envision its future. EB PREC plans to break ground on new development by the beginning of 2024.
The CCC Plan has already started to pay dividends beyond itself. With the proof of concept provided by EB PREC, other community members and organizations have started to engage in the revitalization of the Corridor and greater Oakland.
The City of Oakland, once disinvested from the community, has started to prioritize neighborhood infrastructure and security, including trash pick-ups and sidewalk lighting. New organizations like the BlacSpace Cooperative, aimed at building a thriving ecosystem of Black arts, business, ownership, and culture, and sister organizations like the Black Cultural Zone, founded in 2014 and focused on keeping Black folks in East Oakland, have been important partners in the “cultural reforestation” of Oakland.
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