April 29, 2019 - Issue: Vol. 165, No. 69 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 1st Session
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 [www.gpo.gov] IN RECOGNITION OF ROBERT JONES ______ 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. [[Page E499]] ____________________