Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 27, 2019

Guest Yes on A blog: Bronwyn Harris

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

As a neighbor to Crab Cove and the abandoned federal buildings on McKay Avenue, I was excited to hear about the senior wellness center proposed for the site. When I taught in East Oakland, I gained a strong understanding of how homelessness harms children’s health, but before I moved to the Alameda’s West End, I had given little thought to another vulnerable group: seniors.

In the Bay Area, people lose housing for a variety of reasons; unfortunately, most of us could too easily see this happen to ourselves. In the early years of my teaching career, I struggled quite a bit financially. If housing prices had been as high as they are now, there’s a good chance I would have been homeless at some point, at least temporarily.

Many of us have an idea that the unhoused are lazy, have addiction issues, or are dangerous. But, honestly, they’re just people like the rest of us. They’ve just had a run of bad luck, had trouble finding work (something that’s especially difficult for seniors) or don’t have a social safety net to fall back on.

My grandmother went through treatment for ovarian cancer in her 70s. I’m happy to say that she is still with us, healthy and cancer-free. But when I hear the arguments against this wellness center, I think of her and her struggle. She had insurance and a large, comfortable home to recover in; she didn’t lose her home or savings to medical costs. If she had already been unhoused or had lost her housing because she had to pay for treatment, it’s almost certain that she wouldn’t be alive today.

The site on McKay simply isn’t suitable for any kind of park or open space, as it consists of institutional buildings and concrete. A vote for the “open space” initiative will leave the property as it is: dark, unsafe and abandoned.

But the location is perfect for a wellness center. It’s near major bus lines for transportation but also near a beautiful natural setting, which could promote healing. Turning it into a center will actually make it a safer place for me (and other Alamedans) to walk by, with lights, residents, staff and security, instead of darkness and abandoned buildings.

As an educator, I’ve worked with many individuals and families who didn’t have stable housing. That’s a hard situation at any time, but when there’s a medical issue, it can be catastrophic. As a neighbor, I’m so happy that we may be able to help the most vulnerable at such a difficult time in their lives. As an Alamedan and a member of the human race, this center gives me hope that we can act compassionately.

I walk by this site every day, sometimes more than once. I look forward to the day it becomes a welcoming, healing place that allows seniors to face difficult, sometimes terminal diagnoses with comfort and grace.

Bronwyn Harris is an Alameda resident, neighbor of Crab Cove, and writer. Have you read her book Literally Unbelievable?  It’s a great read and gives a glimpse into a profession that everyone thinks they can do but few actually rise to the challenge.


  1. I already voted yes on A and no on B, but the people who are against the senior wellness center and live in the area need to realize if it does become open space it will take many years before anything will happen and in the meantime the “A vote for the “open space” initiative will leave the property as it is: dark, unsafe and abandoned.” which will more and likely be broken into, trashed, and dangerous. It will most be open to illegal activities and be far more dangerous as part of that neighborhood. “The site on McKay simply isn’t suitable for any kind of park or open space, as it consists of institutional buildings and concrete.” Have you ever seen anything in Alameda come below the estimated budget, it will most likely exceed the $11 million but maybe double or triple that amount. It is already costing us a lot just for this special election. Many of the abandoned buildings on the base have been broken into, vandalized, had fires, drug activity and have deteriorated to the degree that they are dangerous. The problem of homeless seniors and others are not going to go away and should be addressed sooner rather than later.

    Comment by joelsf — March 27, 2019 @ 8:05 am

  2. Thanks, Bronwyn Harris, for a thoughtful and neighborly post on why we should vote Yeas on A and No on B April 9…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — March 27, 2019 @ 8:12 am

  3. Even the conservative East Bay Times/San Jose Mercury-News staff endorses Measure A and calls the park plan by supporters of Measure B “subterfuge.”

    Comment by Jon Spangler — March 27, 2019 @ 8:24 am

    • I hope the ‘Alameda Journal’ puts the editorial on their front page this week to offset the terrible “article” of last week!

      Comment by Ron Mooney — March 27, 2019 @ 11:10 am

      • I agree Ron, if B proponents got a front page opinion piece, then A proponents should get the same chance to express thier opinion.

        Comment by trumpisnotmypresident — March 27, 2019 @ 2:56 pm

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