A Former Black Panther's Affordable Housing Project Succeeds Where Other Developers Struggle

January 12, 2024 | McCormack Baron Salazar

In recent years, developers have flocked to the blocks surrounding the West Oakland BART station, collectively proposing thousands of apartments, storefronts, and offices. 

Several of these projects were heralded as “catalysts” for the area—thought to be kickstarters of a new era along a corridor that was once a thriving Black entertainment district but was wiped out by systemic neglect and “urban renewal.”

But years after plans were first drawn up, few have come to fruition. In 2021, The Union, a 110-unit prefabricated building—with modular apartments built in Vallejo, delivered to a site east of the West Oakland BART station, and stacked on top of each other—opened, advertising luxury living. Two other major projects have fallen through. Now, there seems to be only one active construction site—perhaps the most unexpected one. 

Nearing completion on 7th and Campbell streets, a few blocks west of BART, is The Black Panther, an affordable housing project that gets its name from its developer, former Black Panther Party Chairwoman Elaine Brown. 


Working with national developer McCormack Baron Salazar, Brown is building 79 units of supportive housing for tenants making 30% of the area median income or below. Ground floors will house businesses like a market and a fitness center that Brown says will employ—and eventually be sold to—workers who were formerly incarcerated, the same approach used at her urban farm that was previously located on the construction site and will be incorporated into the building.

“This street was very well-known. Black people developed and put a lot of energy into this part of Oakland. It’s a disgrace what has happened to it,” said Brown, now 80, who joined the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s, helping organize its free breakfast program and legal aid services. In the mid-1970s she became the only woman to chair the party, founding its Liberation School program and playing a key role in the radical politics of the era, including running for Oakland City Council and helping register thousands of new voters. 

Click the following link to review the full article on The Oaklandside. Former Black Panther builds affordable housing in West Oakland (