North Richmond’s Redevelopment Puts Community First


During the recent 2024 Housing California Conference, PBF’s Policy Fund team in North Richmond led an illuminating discussion that showcased their transformative approach to affordable housing. Led by our PBF Policy Fund Fellow, Hannah Phalen, the panel included team partners from the Housing Authority of the County of Contra Costa (HACCC), Community Housing Development Corporation of North Richmond (CHDC), and Richmond LAND. The session titled “Transforming a Neighborhood Through Community-Centered Public Land Redevelopment” delved into the comprehensive redevelopment of North Richmond’s Las Deltas Housing Projects, a process distinguished by its considerable community collaboration and innovative strategies.

Community Engagement and Strategic Initiatives

For decades, the Las Deltas Housing Projects suffered from neglect and underinvestment. The resulting conditions – abandoned units and prevalent crime – stifled community morale and trust in local authorities. By 2018, the reality was grim: out of 214 units, only 81 were occupied. The need for change was undeniable, and the local community was skeptical of the Housing Authority due to past redevelopment failures.

Las Deltas decades before demolition

The panel highlighted how the North Richmond Policy Fund team embarked on a mission to not just rebuild but reimagine Las Deltas as a community-centered neighborhood that serves the needs of those who had suffered through the years of neglect. Their strategy was rooted in extensive grassroots organizing, which was essential to rebuilding trust and understanding the community’s needs.

The North Richmond Resident Leadership Team took a proactive community role by initiating the creation of a  Quality of Life plan. Recognizing both the opportunities for improved living conditions and the risks of gentrification and displacement, the plan reflects deep community involvement in shaping the future of their neighborhood. As articulated in the plan’s introduction, the process began as a response to redevelopment news, mobilizing residents to safeguard their community against potential adverse effects. The North Richmond Policy Fund team embraced this plan and has integrated it with other ongoing community initiatives to ensure a holistic approach to urban development and social equity in North Richmond.

Navigating Challenges and Shaping Future Growth

The panel dedicated significant time to discussing the intricate process of navigating HUD’s federal regulations, a crucial step for the project’s forward movement. The team worked tirelessly to gain the necessary approvals to demolish the dilapidated structures and implement a redevelopment plan that included a local preference policy, ensuring that the benefits of redevelopment directly supported the existing community. As a result, HACCC is giving away 16 buildings for $1 each to developers who will redevelop the housing as affordable homeownership opportunities, something for which the community asked for. So the process as a whole + each individual sale had to go through HUD approval. Additionally, if sites are sold below market rate, HUD requires that they remain affordable to families below 80% AMI for at least 20 years. The North Richmond Policy Fund team have been working with the chosen developers for the first 16 sites sold below market value to get residents into homeownership counseling, connected to local, regional, and state down payment assistance programs.

The commitment to equity was evident in every step. By prioritizing local developers, the project both addresses the unique needs of North Richmond and bolsteres the local economy.

The commitment to equity was evident in every step. When drafting the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the redevelopment project, the team prioritized local developers – those who were based in or had significant ties to the community. By prioritizing local developers, the project both addresses the unique needs of North Richmond and bolsteres the local economy.

The panel discussed significant advancements and outlined forthcoming initiatives, revealing that negotiations are actively progressing with local developers aimed at both rehabilitating existing structures and constructing new housing units. Over the next few years, the North Richmond project is set to transform the community’s landscape significantly: plans include the rehabilitation of up to 42 existing affordable housing units and the development of approximately 230 new ones.

Given that Las Deltas accounts for 20% of North Richmond’s housing inventory, its comprehensive redevelopment is set to dramatically reshape the community. This project has already catalyzed the formation of new coalitions and initiatives aimed at enhancing local collaboration and sustainability. Notably, it has led to the creation of community benefit agreements that ensure all new developments deliver tangible benefits to residents. Furthermore, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been established among key stakeholders, fostering a cooperative effort to secure funding for this project and other community development endeavors. These strategic partnerships are designed to ensure that the redevelopment revitalizes the area while aligning with the broader goals of community enhancement and inclusive growth.

Beyond recounting the successes in North Richmond, the panel offered a replicable model of community-centered public land redevelopment. The approach demonstrated how deeply involving local stakeholders and prioritizing their needs in redevelopment plans can lead to sustainable, inclusive growth—something many other communities can adapt and implement. Their hard work not only fosters immediate improvements but also lights the way for future endeavors in community-driven urban development.

An Oral History of Community in Las Deltas
The North Richmond Policy Fund team partnered with Creative Wildfire to create a booklet and video that features residents of Las Deltas before it was shut down. The purpose was to ensure the stories of the residents of Las Deltas are not erased as the land is redeveloped. Additionally, it was an opportunity to bring this community together after 5+ years of being separated due to the relocation.
Tangled Roots: An Oral History of Community in Las Deltas booklet
Tangled Roots: Stories of Community in Las Deltas video