Katherine Peoples is the Founder and Executive Director of HPP Cares. 
(Courtesy photo/tryhomelow.com)



By Kimberly Shelby  

Contributing Writer 


Brand new at Taste of Soul, the Bakewell Builds Better Communities Pavilion will highlight generational wealth building through Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and carpentry. Among the many flavors and creative offerings to sample at the 17-year-strong festival on Saturday, October 15, community partners Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Union and HPP Cares will showcase a state-of-the-art yet affordably priced pre-fab ADU to give homeowners a chance to see for themselves how advantageous it can be to hop aboard this investment property trend. The Pavilion will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. 


Wesley Crunk, Coordinator of Southwest Carpenters Training Fund (SWCTF) will be present to share information about the world of carpentry and the Union’s programs.  


“Come out and experience a day in the life of what it’s like to be a union carpenter,” he encourages people. “Know that there are opportunities for a career, not just a job, with good wages and benefits.” 


In addition to Crunk’s carpentry overview and the ADU tour, Katherine Peoples, founder and executive director of HPP Cares and also a veteran HUD counselor who has been leading educational courses on establishing ADUs since 2020, will offer 15-minute Q&A sessions to apprise local residents of resources and critical information to help them make a profitable and well-protected investment. 


Wesley Crunk of Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Union is mentor-in-chief of the Brother’s Keeper program, assisting disadvantaged individuals who aim to improve their lives through hard work and dedication to a career in the carpentry trade. (Courtesy photo/youtube.com )

“I’ve been teaching the class for ADUs, how to do ADU design, finance, protect, lease and protect, with no funding requirement, for free, because I knew, if I didn’t get the word out to start educating the black and brown folks of our communities, they would be preyed upon as they have been by multiple ADU companies,” says Peoples. 


When she started, Peoples had ten attendees in her ADU class, and she now serves 3,000-4,000 people through her online webinars per month. Given the economic toll the pandemic took on California’s communities, in combination with unprecedentedly high housing prices and interest rates, this income property strategy has generated great interest.  


State-wide laws passed in 2020 loosened and eliminated many restrictions around the building and application processes for these small structures (typically under 1,000 square feet), and many homeowners throughout California are seeing their property values rise by $200,000-$500,000 after building ADUs.  


Of course, another immediate effect of building an ADU is the additional source of rental income it can provide homeowners, which in some cases can help those that are more financially vulnerable stay in their homes while also building generational wealth that can be passed down within families. 


These are among the clients Peoples is most passionate about helping. For her, this work is personal. She recalls, “As a child, my parents had many challenges with the financial institutions that afforded them opportunities to purchase homes, which had unfavorable terms every time, though we were subjected to high interest rates and high payments for a blue-collar family. So I think that’s what really drew me to this.” 


Under the circumstances, when Peoples partners with a financial institution, it’s a good sign, and last week, that sign got even bigger, brighter—think neon. Bank of America announced a new zero down payment, zero closing cost mortgage solution for first-time homebuyers in designated markets, including certain Black/African American and/or Hispanic-Latino neighborhoods in Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and Miami.   


“I would have never thought in a million years that that program would have ever come into fruition. So now to have an opportunity to have a positioning, a footprint, a following of African American and Latino consumers that can participate in that program and can become homeowners [is wonderful],” Peoples remarked. 


Already, in partnership with CALHFA, which provides an ADU Grant of up to $40,000 for pre-development and non-reoccurring closing costs, Peoples has moved 890 applications to approval. Bank of America’s new program will make it possible to help even more California residents realize their dreams of homeownership–and maintain it. 


The latter has become more challenging in recent years. The UCLA Urban Displacement Project determined in 2018 that Los Angeles County exhibited the highest rates of gentrification in Southern California, with many tracts experiencing “Ongoing Displacement of Low-Income Households.” COVID-19 made it worse. Rents increased by 15% last year. In early 2020, of Los Angeles’s 40,000 homeless, 70% were Black and Hispanic. Swanky real estate firms are actively razing, re-envisioning and rebuilding areas of South L.A. one block at a time. 


Bakewell Media recognizes the significance of these new opportunities HPP Cares is procuring for residents.  


“The Bakewell Company and specifically Taste of Soul have always been about ways to highlight things that improve our community,” remarked Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., Chairman of The Bakewell Company and Founder/Creator of Taste of Soul. 

“This year we are excited to feature the opportunity for homeowners to build ADU’s on their property as a way to increase value and revenue for their properties, while at the same time creating affordable and sustainable housing for those in need. Homeownership has always been the gateway to building wealth within the Black Community, and highlighting this opportunity to the masses who attend Taste of Soul every year is just another way Taste of Soul can and does uplift our community.”   


As a developer as well, Bakewell has a unique vantage point from which to appreciate these new developments. 


“What I am, and what we as a family are most proud of, is that we have been able to build a successful company on the core value that the Black Community and all communities of color want and deserve the same quality products and retailers that other communities have and need, and that by bringing to these communities quality developments, we have been able to create economic opportunities not only for ourselves, but for other Black, Women and business of color and have been the catalyst for economic revitalization in Compton, in Pasadena, in South Los Angeles, in Seaside, in Hawthorne, and in every community where we have had the opportunity to develop,” Bakewell stated. 


Partner HPP Cares’ reach is comparably wide; they service Northern and Southern California.  


Since this stretch of Peoples’ career path has begun, the accessibility of means by which homeowners can build ADUs—and thus their wealth—has grown substantially, and she is thrilled to see the transformations, but she emphasizes the need for those interested to learn all they can before jumping in. Given what this could mean to the Black communities in South L.A., caution is critical.  


“I need to be at Taste of Soul to educate and provide the resources,” said Peoples. “You need to see somebody who looks like you, who is going to be honest and forthright and give you the information that you need to know through the ADU process. I found the product that will meet the need for our community. That’s coupled with the $40,000 grant funds and coupled with the financing that’s needed to meet the middle. I need to make sure that we know about that $40,000 grant program that covers those pre-development costs so that you can build your ADUs.”  


The joyous festival on October 15 will feature vendors offering tastes of everything from culinary delights to therapeutic aromas. Thanks to HPP Cares and the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Union, South L.A. residents can also have a taste of equity.  


Learn more at tasteofsoulla.com.