Emeryville’s ‘Patron Saint’ Honored at Affordable Housing Groundbreaking Event

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A life spent serving the community was honored on Thursday, June 29th.

86-year-old Nellie Hannon, founder of the Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program or “ECAP”, was recognized with an affordable housing project named in her honor. “Nellie Hannon Gateway” will replace the structures at 3610 and 3620 San Pablo Avenue where she and others have been feeding those in need for decades.

When complete, the project will include 90 units expected to house as many as 140 low-income and formerly homeless individuals. The project was designed by LPAS Architects and being constructed by J.H. Fitzmaurice.

Affordable Housing
The building’s facade will include a public mural by local artist Joaquin Newman.

Affordable housing developer RCD (Resources for Community Development) hosted the ceremony attended by around a hundred community members, stakeholders and local dignitaries. Emeryville Mayor John Bauters, an instrumental force behind the project and regular ECAP volunteer, was also present at the event.

Hannon, who served on Emeryville city council from 1983-1987, formerly established ECAP as a nonprofit in 1989. Hannon along with her brother Bobby Miller and a host of volunteers have helped feed an incalculable number of hungry residents over the span of almost 40 years. The organization typically serves 300 households on any given day of operation.

“In 1985 I solicited food from grocery stores and passed out donations from my garage on Ocean Avenue in Emeryville. More people kept coming and the need for assistance outgrew my individual effort,” Hannon explained from behind the podium.

“Friends, family and neighbors volunteered and we formed ECAP. With support from the city of Emeryville, we moved into an abandoned firehouse in 1992. In 1997, we moved to 3610 San Pablo Avenue.”

Hannon, despite her octogenarian status, often works seven days a week traversing the Bay Area in pursuit of food donations and distributing them.

The freshly demolished sites most recently accommodated Golden Gate Lock & Key and Doug’s Barbecue (shuttered around 2008). The properties were acquired through a public auction when they fell into foreclosure.

To accommodate their development, ECAP has temporarily moved down San Pablo to a space in West Oakland between 26th & 27th streets (a former liquor store).

ECAP’s temporary home at 2628 San Pablo. Their hours are M-F from 12-4 p.m. (Photo: Drew Dirschell)

The project, first pitched in 2017, was originally envisioned for just 39 units at a cost of $25 million but expanded to seven stories in later iterations. The ground floor of the project will include expanded facilities to accommodate ECAP and ensure their indefinite operation.

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The estimated $91.5 million cost of the project is being financed by the Housing Trust Silicon Valley the State of California, the City of Emeryville, and others.

The City of Emeryville will be contributing $16.75 million from their 2018 voter-approved Measure C $50 million affordable housing bond. A bulk of the financing (over $66 million) will come from three State of California Housing & Community Development (HCD) programs including:

Additional sources of financing for the project include:

The project will also include new pedestrian and transportation infrastructure. It is expected to be completed by Spring 2025.

Additional information about the project can be viewed on rcdhousing.org.

7/11 update: The total cost of the project originally reported as $96.2 million (a figure provided by city documents) has been updated to $91.5 million.

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.


  1. She’s very deserving, but an affordable project that will cost over $1 million per unit? How can we realistically make a dent in the need for affordable housing at this cost. I feel an investigation of these “affordable” developers is in order.

    • $500,000 per unit for initial construction. $250,000 per unit for ongoing maintenance and cleanup of trash. $318,888 to reconstruct each unit in 5 years.
      Freelance government affairs specialists are getting rich. Advocates clamoring for housing are getting rich. Legal aid attorneys are getting rich. “Non-profit” policy directors are getting rich. Affordable housing program coordinators are getting rich.

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