Posted May 4, 2018 by Editorial Staff in Business

A Group of East Oaklanders Seek to Empower Their Community

candice elder
candice elder

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By Shelby Pope

Stretching east to west across a huge chunk of East Oakland, 73rd Avenue takes you past attractions like the airport and Coliseum, from the wealthier hills to the poorer flatlands.

A few years ago, Candice Elder drove it daily for her commute to work. As she descended through the flatlands where she grew up, she couldn’t help but notice what the area lacked.

When she was younger, things had been different. There were places for her and her friends to spend their time and money at — places like Eastmont Mall, whose blighted remains she now also passes daily.

Today, if Elder wanted to go to a cafe that was open late or simply send a fax, she’d have to travel outside the neighborhood. “I have a car. I can drive to Lake Merritt. I can drive to San Leandro. But I don’t want to,” she said. “I want to spend my dollar in my community.”

The area’s rising home prices also troubled her: She wanted to raise her future family where she had grown up, but can’t afford to.

Elder knew that if she were worried, there had to be others like her — people who had grown up in deep east who wanted more for their community, a place where residents have lower incomes, higher mortality rates, and more health issues than the rest of the city. (A 2015 report from the Alameda County Public Health Department found that parts of East Oakland had twice the amount of asthma-related emergency room visits as the county average, as well as higher stroke and heart failure rates.)