Ed Roberts Campus Closes Funding Gap | News

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Ed Roberts Campus Closes Funding Gap

Berkeley City Council to vote on $2 million for ERC on Tuesday, November 27th; MTC to vote on $4.5 million on November 28th
Monday, November 26, 2007

A coalition of East Bay elected officials, transportation agencies and people with disabilities have joined together to close a $10 million funding gap that will enable the Ed Roberts Campus to start construction in early 2008.

The Ed Roberts Campus will be an internationally-renowned center for people with disabilities at the Ashby BART station in South Berkeley. The seven partner organizations located at the ERC will provide direct services to the disability community throughout the greater Bay Area and be a national center for advocacy and other efforts on their behalf.

In response to requests from the Ed Roberts Campus, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is expected to award $4.5 million to the Ed Roberts Campus (ERC) at its meeting on November 28. The MTC is providing funds to the campus because it is a major transit-oriented development that will result in greater utilization of public transit by the disabled and elderly.

Providing the one-to-one match for the MTC funds are the City of Berkeley, the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency (ACCMA) and BART. Mayor Bates, who is also the MTC Commissioner representing the cities of Alameda County, coordinated the effort to meet MTC’s match. The City’s portion of the match is expected to be $2.5 million, $500,000 of which was awarded to the Campus by the Council on October 23rd, and $2 million that is expected to be awarded on Tuesday, November 27. ACCMA and BART are working together to provide $2 million from an additional source of funds.

This collaborative effort of MTC, the City of Berkeley, ACCMA and BART will provide $9 million toward the Campus’ $45 million goal, bringing its campaign total to $44 million. The final $1 million is being provided by a “bridge loan” that the ERC will repay through a combination of pending federal appropriations bills, the New Freedom grant program, and private sector philanthropy that will be raised during construction.

“The Ed Roberts Campus will be a national and international model dedicated to disability rights and universal access. I am honored to be joining with Barbara Lee and my transportation colleagues in working to make the dream of the Ed Roberts Campus a reality,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. “Berkeley is the birthplace of the disability civil rights movement and I can think of no better place in the world to house such an important facility to serve this important community. Mayor Bates has been a long-time champion of the disability rights movement, and as a State Assembly Member authored the legislation that provided permanent funding for California’s independent living centers that allowed for their expansion across the state.

“Today is a great day for everyone involved in making the Ed Roberts Campus happen,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Now seniors and people with disabilities will enjoy the benefits of a center that is fully accessible by public transportation. I want to commend the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for its commitment to promote access to persons with disabilities, and extend my deepest appreciation to the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency, the City of Berkeley, and BART for their generous matching funds.”

Representative Lee has led the federal effort to raise funds for the Campus and has secured $3,774,000 in federal transportation and economic development funds. Her request for $500,000 in the “Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill” is now pending in Congress.

The Ed Roberts Campus is widely recognized as a model transit-oriented development that will make vital services and programs accessible via public transit to seniors and people with disabilities who are among the most transportation-disadvantaged populations in the country.

The Ed Roberts Campus is a nonprofit corporation that has been formed by disability organizations that share a common history in the Independent Living Movement of People with Disabilities. The Ed Roberts Campus will house the offices of the collaborating organizations and other non-profits as well as fully accessible meeting rooms, a computer/media resource center, a fitness center, a cafe, and a child development center. LMS Architects designed the 86,000 square foot Campus.

The organizations developing the Campus are: Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program, Center for Accessible Technology, Center for Independent Living, Computer Technologies Program, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Through the Looking Glass, and World Institute on Disability. These organizations and other nonprofits will offer a wide range of programs from legal advocacy and job training to parenting support and wheelchair sports. Such programs help people move from poverty and dependency into employment and greater participation in society. The ERC expects to serve 30,000 people annually.

The Campus is a $45 million public-private partnership with approximately 40% of its funds coming from the private sector and a mortgage paid by the partner organizations and other tenants, and 60% from government sources.

The Campus is named after Ed Roberts, a significantly disabled man who was a trailblazer of the Independent Living Movement that began in the 70s. He was the first person with a disability to serve as Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation; he was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur fellowship in 1984. He was co-founder and President of the World Institute on Disability. Roberts died in 1995.

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