Farewell to an Eden Founder

Dear Friends of Eden,

It is with great sadness that I pass on the news that Eden's founding Board member, William “Bill” Vandenburgh passed away. As many of you know, Bill was a driving force behind the formation of Eden in 1968. He and several others came together to do something about what was then known as Open Housing. Today we know it as fair housing. That first board of volunteers went to work on a California ballot initiative for Open Housing, which sadly did not pass. Undeterred, Bill and the other founders came together and started building housing. First, they adopted six families and executed a Habitat for Humanity-style self-help project. For their second act as a board, they built Josephine Lum Lodge, a 150-unit affordable senior housing complex here in Hayward, that we still own today.

Bill chaired Eden’s board for decades and served as a member of the board for 48 years. He was always a driving force in our commitment to the mission of building and preserving affordable housing and providing services to our residents. I will never forget after the State of California eliminated redevelopment agencies, he sent me a note of encouragement. It read, “While no doubt this turn of events in California feels daunting, it is not a time to feel sorry for yourself. It’s a time to sharpen your pencil and figure out what’s next. There are too many who need our housing to do otherwise.” Bill was truly an inspiration, and all of us should be grateful for his commitment to making the world a better place and for being such a driving force behind Eden. Eden Housing and all our supporters carry on his legacy in our work today.

Nick Randall, Eden's current Board Chair notes that "Bill Vandenburgh was a giant in both vision and passion for social and economic justice. He was a champion for the needy and vulnerable in our society, as committed to political action as he was to practical, direct solutions, like building homes that low income people could afford.  With a small group of Hayward friends back in 1968, Bill founded Eden Housing. Eden's accomplishments since that time are a direct outcome of Bill's dedication: 20,000 low-income Californians he never met have a decent, safe home to return to tonight because of Bill Vandenburgh. We will miss him, but we'll never forget the mission he promoted and how he led us to do what is right for our fellow man."

Bill is an Eden legend, and he will be sorely missed. A few years ago, Bill made a personal contribution to advance Eden's work to start the Bill Vandenburgh Resident Services Fund. If you would like to honor his legacy, you can do so by contributing to this fund here. Thank you all for your continued support.

Linda Mandolini

eden housing does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin, or any other arbitrary basis.