Projects - Brown Shingle Mutual Housing

Brown Shingle Mutual Housing was donated to BACLT on March 28, 2015. Brown Shingle includes three large brown shingle houses on a single property in South Berkeley. The houses were built between 1903 and 1908, with a mix of four large 3 bedroom flats, a large communal house, and the original water tower. The property had been self-managed since 1975, when the tenants forced the landlord into foreclosure after a two-year rent strike and were able to purchase the property. The landlord intended to tear down the houses and replace them with a large apartment building. The tenants were part of Berkeley Tenants Union, Local 7 that led a much larger rent strike involving many properties in Berkeley from 1973 to 1975. In 2002, the tenants put the houses into a Limited Liability Corporation or LLC, as a legal ownership structure.

The Brown Shingle Mutual Housing LLC decided to donate the property to BACLT to make sure it would be well maintained, well-managed, and permanently affordable. BACLT has managed the property as rental housing while providing the residents with technical assistance and training so they can operate the property effectively. We have started the process of transition to partial resident management, with ongoing oversight and technical assistance from BACLT. We provided a series of seven workshops to assist residents in taking on more responsibility for maintenance, finances, and filling vacancies.

Brown Shingle provided very affordable housing, with very low rents, for many people and families for over 40 years. However, the low rents meant limited income for making repairs on the buildings. BACLT secured a mortgage on favorable terms from Beneficial State Bank, and has completed significant improvements to the property. Two units have been completely renovated, painted and refinished wood floors. Plumbing upgrades include three new sewer laterals, new water lines for one unit and new low-flush toilets. The exteriors have been painted (one building had not been painted in 30 years.) Seismic retrofitting is underway, and renovation of the water tower is planned in the near future. BACLT welcomes Brown Shingle into the land trust and look forward to providing high-quality, affordable housing for generations to come!