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Case study: Community Development Partners - Asset-Based Community Development

Asset-Based Community Development for Planned Affordable Housing in San Jose

In collaboration with Community Development Partners (CDP) and David Baker Architects (DBA), and in partnership with Portland State University’s Center for Public Interest Design (CPID), we led a 9-month asset-based community development process to identify neighborhood service needs and gaps, foster partnerships with local nonprofit organizations, and build community support for a 160-unit affordable housing development in San Jose. The co-design process included stakeholder interviews, a commercial space design workshop, an accessibility design workshop, and a community-wide engagement meeting.


Our project team took inventory, physically mapped out neighborhood assets and opportunities, and interviewed key stakeholders, especially persons with lived experience, to identify individuals and organizations that are already doing the work to serve and mobilize the community. Building and prioritizing these relationships helped our project team better understand the diverse cultural, socio-economic and linguistic needs of the Alum Rock Village neighborhood, informed our translation and interpretation approach at community meetings, and increased social capital within the community.

We conducted 38 virtual calls with 1) neighborhood-based and county-wide community-based organizations (CBOs) specializing in residential housing services and other social services for low-income households; 2) disability advocacy and service organizations and universal design in housing experts; and 3) neighborhood associations, community leaders, and affordable housing advocates. We hired members of a local lived-experience-of-homelessness advisory board to conduct in-person surveys with low-income families and formerly homeless individuals living in the neighborhood. Peer interviewers focused on engaging community members who are particularly vulnerable and would most benefit from the future services and programs to be provided onsite at the development.


Using what we heard, we prepared a summary report of programming and design recommendations and an asset map for the development team, which included a list of potential partners for CDP to work with to successfully implement and maintain services at 525 N. Capitol Avenue.

After convening a virtual design workshop with CBOs interested in potentially providing programming and services out of the planned development’s ground floor commercial space, we supported the client in selecting Veggielution as a project partner. Veggielution is a well-known and respected anchor institution in the local community, and their partnership and involvement immediately garnered trust and support among other service providers, affordable housing advocates, and local leaders.


Next, we convened and facilitated a virtual accessible design workshop with persons living with disabilities, the formerly homeless, seniors, veterans, disability advocates and service providers, and universal design experts to receive feedback and recommendations on how to adjust the building design to go above and beyond the minimum requirements in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) code. We captured and summarized these recommendations for our clients so they could thoughtfully make choices about how to increase the accessibility of the new development.

Lastly, we convened and facilitated a virtual informational community meeting to create time and space for community members to learn about the project, ask questions, make comments, and build relationships. We prepared a final summary report of design, partnership, and engagement recommendations for the development team, which includes name and contact information of local project champions, ideas for integrating future tenants into local community programming, and considerations for the design, construction, and lease-up phases of the project to ensure ongoing neighborhood support.

Our outreach and engagement support provided our clients with a strong understanding of how to address critical needs in the surrounding community and identified local service organizations that were culturally and geographically well-suited to engender trust and integrate the development into the fabric of the community. As they continue in the development process for this new affordable housing site, our clients are well-positioned to create a physical space that brings joy to tenants and community members alike.

“At CDP, we are committed to engaging with the local communities and neighborhoods for all of our projects. We believe this provides the best outcomes, not only for the project itself, but most importantly for the future residents who will call it home. Our project at 525 N. Capitol is our first in San Jose, and it was critical that we had a rooted and established partner to support our community engagement work. CivicMakers was a diligent, compassionate, and creative partner, supporting these efforts in a way that aligned with our company values and mission.”

Reid Bradshaw Senior Development Manager, Community Development Partners