"Then a man said that ABHOW was building new affordable housing so I asked my daughter to find out about it," she recalled. "I called ABHOW and sent in an application."
American Baptist Homes of the West, headquartered in Pleasanton, has been providing housing to low-income seniors since 1949 and now has 42 communities, including Pleasanton Gardens on Kottinger Avenue.
Sanders was one of the fortunate seniors whose name was drawn for an apartment in ABHOW's new Valley Vista complex on San Ramon Valley Boulevard in San Ramon. Last year she moved into her small flat, where she pays 30% of her income for rent.
"There are many perks -- the food bank, activities, beautiful scenery," she said. "A shuttle bus takes us to stores."
The ABHOW Foundation's Golf Classic takes place next month to raise money to continue its programs, such as transit buses and lunches, and to provide amenities, including patio furniture, flower beds or music and sound systems for the hearing impaired.
In 2011, ABHOW assumed the management of Pleasanton Gardens, which has 40 cottage-style apartments set among lawns and flowerbeds. It has 52 residents, said administrator Yvette Ochoa; many have moved in to be near their children.
"Most of them have lived here in California most of their lives," she said. "One was raised here."
Ochoa said the facility, built in 1969, is scheduled for a remodeling.
"It will be the same type of structure it has now because the residents do like how they can walk out straight to their garden," she said.
"The big advantage they have here is downtown is within walking distance," she added. "I've noticed that in the evenings they get out of their apartments."
A bus from the Senior Center comes to Pleasanton Gardens, and it also has dance classes, English classes for the Asian population, and celebrates birthdays in the community room, which is always open for socializing. It will benefit from the Golf Classic fundraiser, Ochoa said.
"We're trying to remodel the community room and put new carpet in there for them," she explained. "We're going to get new games -- bingo, dominoes, any type of game -- and new furniture, maybe more tables."
"We want to add outdoor furniture so they can enjoy being outside," she said.
Mae Hill, 67, was also fortunate to find a home in the 105-unit Valley Vista. She raised her family in Oakland, then moved to affordable housing in Brentwood but wanted to be closer to her daughters in Pleasanton and San Ramon.
"We have independent living here," said Hill, noting the convenience of everything, the exercise room and community rooms with television, and the good care from the staff. "This is the best time of my life, to be here."
Jenice and Freddie Law, 58 and 69, were born in Hong Kong but lived for more than 30 years in San Francisco. When they visited the Tri-Valley about 20 years ago they were impressed by the warm weather, then their daughter moved to San Ramon.
"We are grateful to ABHOW for the community here," Freddie Law said.
"All the people are so nice," Jenice added.
They like stretching and exercising each day, and appreciate the English classes, which they noted also encourage interaction among the community members.
"We have so many social gatherings -- bingo, social hours, birthday parties, a dance every week," said Peggy Sanders.
The best part, she said, is that she can afford it on her small pension and Social Security.
Seniors in need of affordable housing now represent more than 20% of California's population, according to ABHOW, and affordable housing is scarce and often substandard. ABHOW's mission is to help seniors thrive in its communities.
The 16th ABHOW Foundation Golf Classic will take place Monday, Sept. 24, at Blackhawk Country Club, with golfing, a barbecue lunch, dinner, awards ceremony and live auction. Golf packages and spa packages are available. Register at www.abhow.com/foundation/golf_2012 or call 800-222-2469.