IN RECOGNITION OF ROBERT JONES; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 69
(Extensions of Remarks - April 29, 2019)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E498-E499]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                           HON. JACKIE SPEIER

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                         Monday, April 29, 2019

  Ms. SPEIER. Madam Speaker, I rise to honor Robert Jones the retiring 
Executive Director of EPA Can Do. This nonprofit community development 
corporation located in East Palo Alto has provided affordable housing, 
financial readiness training, property management, and homeownership 
evaluations for thousands of residents since it was first established 
in 1991. Robert Jones was a founding member of this organization and in 
2000 began as its Executive Director.
  Robert was born in Warren Arkansas to John and Odessa Jones. He has 
six sisters and three brothers. As a child in Arkansas, he grew up 
under a system of segregated schools and public facilities, racism and 
Jim Crow statutes that denied opportunity to African Americans. In 
1962, he and his family relocated to California where they settled in 
Pasadena. He ultimately obtained his AA degree in Interior Design from 
Los Angeles City College and a Bachelor's in Psychology and Master's in 
Counselor Education from San Jose State University.
  His kind heart and strong mind led him to counseling young people, 
and he eventually worked with emotionally disturbed children, and 
counseled them on career and vocational decision making. By the 1990's 
he was involved in the field of affordable housing and joined Eden 
Housing in Hayward to begin a career as a project manager for 
affordable housing projects. It was also during this time that he 
joined with other neighborhood leaders in East Palo Alto to found EPA 
Can Do, serving as its first Vice Chair and then, soon thereafter, 
rising to Chair.
  Robert Jones worked closely with the City of East Palo Alto to secure 
home ownership for its residents. In 2002, EPA Can Do began to 
refinance predatory loans in partnership with Fannie Mae. This program 
was a forerunner to the programs established after the Great Recession 
in 2008. The Foreclosure Intervention and Counseling Program 
established after the meltdown counseled over 3,700 homeowners from 
East Palo Alto and surrounding communities.
  EPA Can Do has developed several projects but remains in ownership of 
a 15-unit development, Clarke Avenue Apartments. The Light Tree 
Apartments exist as affordable units in part because Robert Jones and 
EPA Can Do facilitated their transfer to a financially stronger owner, 
Eden Housing. Over the course of a six-year period, Robert assembled 
parcels along University Avenue and then negotiated a partnership which 
resulted in the creation of 41 units at Serenity Senior Housing. This 
development was a twinkle in the eye of Robert Jones and few thought 
that he could turn it into reality, but he did. The reality of Robert's 
career in housing development is 350 units of permanently affordable 
housing across several jurisdictions.
  Robert Jones presently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Menlo Park 
Fire Protection District and also participates in numerous volunteer 
positions in East Palo Alto, including as a CERT volunteer. Throughout 
his life in East Palo Alto, he participated in many committees to 
improve the quality of life of residents, including committees focused 
on anti-drug efforts, improving childcare, economic development, and 
the East Palo Alto Senior Center Board of Directors.
  When the history of East Palo Alto in the modern era is reviewed, 
Robert Jones will be understood to be at the center of many positive 
changes in this remarkable community. East Palo Alto is filled with 
hard working, loving people who wish the best for their families, their 
neighbors and their city. Over decades, Robert Jones has worked to turn 
the wishes of these amazing residents into opportunity. As he retires 
from a financially sound EPA Can Do, we know that he will remain 
involved in building his city's civic spirit. We wish Robert Jones all 
the best in his retirement. He may no longer be at the center of all 
the initiatives that will shape East Palo Alto, but he will remain in 
the hearts of his neighbors for many years to come.

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