Strawberry Creek Lodge’s unique senior housing design and concept was conceived in 1956 by a group of community minded persons who organized the Berkeley Senior Housing Association for the specific purpose of providing adequate housing for lower-middle-income senior citizens in Berkeley.
The dream of the Association was realized in 1960 with the purchase of 1.8 acres of land on Addison Street between West and Acton Streets bordering Strawberry Creek. Morris M. Gaddis, The Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency granted a 50-year direct loan of $1,667,000 to construct the complex in 1961 and an additional $35,000 was raised by the Association in cooperation with the Berkeley Senior Center Committee.
During 1961, the Strawberry Creek Lodge Foundation was formed as a direct outgrowth of the Association and became the legal entity and manager of Strawberry Creek Lodge. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held in May, 1962. Construction began in September, and the first 178 residents moved in 13 months later in October, 1963. These residents were men and women between the ages of 62 and 95.
While many things have changed since the original residents first occupied SCL units, what has not changed is the increasingly rigorous regulatory climate under which the Lodge was originally funded; it has become extremely complex. To keep pace with the increasing demands, the Foundation Trustees hired a management organization, Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA), in 2013 and in 2015 sold the complex to SAHA. The Board of Trustees continues to be charged with evaluating the efficacy of this arrangement as well as the possibility of returning to its original self-ownership and oversight status in the future.
Today the Strawberry Creek Lodge continues to be a very safe and attractive environment as a result of a successful 2015 remodeling and earthquake-retrofit effort. The original residents are gone, but their imprint remains. Those original residents were self-sufficient and self-reliant men and women who helped keep the dream alive and passed on their traditions to newer residents.
Strawberry Creek Lodge is still an energetic, exciting place to live. Residents are involved in multi-community activities and bring vigor and life to activities which they sponsor at the Lodge. We acknowledge and are thankful for the Berkeley Senior Housing Association members who made Strawberry Creek Lodge a reality almost 60 years ago.
In 1961, the Strawberry Creek Lodge Foundation was formed as a direct outgrowth of the Association and became the legal entity and manager of Strawberry Creek Lodge.
The Foundation Trustees have changed, but still are representative of the community. They are broad-based in professional expertise and community involvement. This contributes to informed decisions on multi-level facility operations. Along with six volunteers from the East Bay community, four Lodge residents serve as Board members: Saeeda Khan , Ann Squires, Kai Castleberry. and Mukta Vie. Ann Squires was elected Board chairperson for 2022.
Then, as now, the Trustees serve on a voluntary basis, receiving no compensation for their services. Today, as yesterday, the Foundation continues the dream of the Berkeley Senior Housing Association, providing affordable housing to seniors.
Many things, of course, have changed: rents in 1963 were $65/month for a studio and $110/month for a one-bedroom apartment. Today rents are higher, but still affordable. The Trustees’ task is twofold: to keep the Lodge financially solvent and well-maintained for both present and future generations, while at the same time, formulating policies which adhere to the agreement signed by the founders. Current Board priorities are overseeing the design and funding of our meal program, monitoring SAHA's administration of the budget, and assuring that the renovation of our kitchen meets the needs of current and future residents.
The intention of the Tenants Association is to make life at the Lodge an experience of aging in dignity and comfort. Or as a TA president once described, “a self-generating community, having a voice, and sharing our pastimes and passions.” All residents of Strawberry Creek Lodge are automatically TA members the moment that they move in. They are warmly welcomed to come to monthly meetings , bring their interests and concerns, and to participate in the activities or classes undertaken by ever-evolving TA sub-committees.
About the management of the Lodge in its early days, resident Saeeda Khan, party to forming the original Tenants Association and one of the first residents to be accepted as a member of the Board of Trustees reports:
"In 1978 I joined the Lodge. There was no company for administration, only one manager and one bookkeeper under a Board of Trustees who had a very strict attitude. Tenants were not allowed to get any information. Board meetings were held behind closed doors.”
There was no formal organization among the residents, so Saeeda along with 3 or 4 other observant tenants began to meet privately to discuss their concerns. Repairs to the 23-year-old building were not being made. Maintenance was inadequate. Some of the manager’s decisions seemed unwise.
As the manager at the time was not responsive to their inquiries, and the Board not taking action, this informal group went to HUD for advice in 1987. HUD advised the SCL Board to hire a management company, referred the tenant group to a pro-bono law firm for guidance, and also recommended that they form a Tenant Association.
It was, in fact, HUD that provided tenants with the framework of by-laws by which the TA continues to be guided today. These define the purpose of the Tenants Association: to represent the tenants, to promote their security, health and general welfare, and to provide activities for their entertainment, recreation and education.