Isaac grew up on the same block as Page Street Studios, Charities Housing’s new affordable housing complex located in the West San Carlos Urban Village area. With a smile, he remembers standing at his grandmother’s doorway and peering down the street with his cousins. “Now I’m standing here looking down that way, and it’s kind of fun,” chuckles Isaac.
A native of San José, Isaac was raised in a small family, including his mom, grandmother, and five cousins who were often at his grandmother’s house. He attended Trace Elementary and Lincoln High School, and actively played sports. Down the line, Isaac made some unhealthy decisions that led to addiction and being involved in gangs, and he ended up in prison.
“I just kept going in and out,” Isaac recalls. “Mainly behind drug use. Once all this started happening, some days I started thinking of quitting. It was really hard. I was dependent on it.”
“I was tired of everything. I was tired of the streets. I was tired of drug use. It was pretty much killing me – I had a brain tumor, two-thirds of my stomach cut out. But I’d rather sit sober with a roof over my head than sitting out there with nothing.”
On January 5th, Isaac became one of the first tenants in the newly opened 82-unit affordable apartment building. The community was built by mission-driven developer Charities Housing for vulnerable community members, including people who were formerly homeless, and people with developmental differences. Housing Trust Silicon Valley, a nonprofit community loan fund and certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) supported the project from the beginning. We were proud to provide early-stage funding to our long-time developer partner.
Isaac learned about the opportunity through his case worker at Santa Clara County’s Office of Supportive Housing. When given the choice among his affordable housing options, Page Street Studios was one of the locations on the list. Hearing that familiar street from childhood, Isaac jumped at the chance to apply. There was no hesitation.
He completed his paperwork with the help of his case worker. A week later, Isaac learned that he had been denied, but he was mentally prepared for that. Sometimes applications get denied because something is missing. His case worker helped him with an appeal to have the application reviewed again. The very next day, he received the best news possible – his application was accepted!
Isaac moved into his new home the following week. Expecting to find an empty studio, he was surprised to find bedding, a hygiene kit, and clean clothes, thanks to the support of Charities Housing. The developer also manages the property.
“My mom used to tell me, ‘Learn to appreciate what I provide for us,’ shares Isaac. “I never understood what she was talking about, but now I do. This has given me a lot to appreciate.”
Located at the intersection of Meridian Avenue and San Carlos Street, Page Street Studios is accessible to public transportation, shops, and markets. Tenants have access to laundry facilities, a community room, and outdoor terraces. A landscaped paseo connects several blocks along the West San Carlos Urban Village. It is a beautiful, energy-efficient building designed by David Baker Architects.
Isaac appreciates having his own key and checking his mail using his own mailing address. In the mornings, he wakes up early to work out and exercises nearly three times a day. He enjoys watching TV, keeping his mind active, and catching up with his neighbors, whether in passing or along the landscape paseo. One of his favorite pastimes is riding around the neighborhood on his bike, which he can now conveniently and safely store in the studios’ bicycle storage room.
Whether it is game day, movie day, or an afternoon of baking bread or making pizzas, you can find Isaac at one of the Page Street Studios workshops hosted by Community Solutions, a nonprofit that provides services and support to help people overcome the challenges posed by mental health issues, substance misuse, trauma, and other gender-based violence. Isaac and many neighbors that live at Page Street Studios receive continued on-site support services through Community Solutions.
The events and workshops provide an opportunity for residents to build community with one another. At these workshops, case managers get to know how the residents are doing and what their needs are in order to provide essentials, such as clothing or grocery gift cards. Social service provider Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County is also located on-site and helps residents in need of support services.
“Every day is a new hope. Every day is a gift and a new chance and opportunity. It’s in our hands what we’re going to do that day,” says Angelica (Angel) Marie Sterling, Program Supervisor at Community Solutions. “Every time we have a workshop or training, Isaac is one of those that are always present and participating, and trying to help other residents.”
Turning to Isaac, Angel shares, “I just want to tell you that I’m proud of you.”
Today, Isaac is working on his resume and applying for jobs in every field, from painting to warehouse work. He aspires for more, with the dream of one day having his own house.
“As nice as this is, I still want more,” says Isaac. “When I find a job, everything will change. It’ll help me continue to be more responsible. Community Solutions may have to let me loose someday, but it’ll be good because then I’ll be on my own two feet.”
Isaac’s advice for community members looking for stable, affordable housing is to know that Page Street Studios is here for them. “It’s real – it really is. I’m living proof. For anyone in the same position I was in, give it a chance. You can come inside. You can come indoors and quit being on the streets.”
About Housing Trust Silicon Valley
Housing Trust Silicon Valley is a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) based in San Jose that is transforming housing finance and public and private partnerships to create more equitable and affordable communities. Since 2000, Housing Trust has invested more than $555 million in programs that help everyone from the homeless to renters to first-time homebuyers – creating over 26,000 affordable housing opportunities helping more than 49,000 of our neighbors. For more information, visit housingtrustsv.org.
About Charities Housing
We are a mission driven non-profit that focuses on affordable housing development and operations and has been serving the lowest levels of affordability for families, individuals, and seniors in our community for the last 30 years. Charities Housing currently operates in excess of 1,500 apartment homes in Santa Clara County and with the help of all our public and private partners, we have in excess of 2,000 additional apartment homes under various stages of development or predevelopment that will be delivered into the community over the next few years. For more information visit charitieshousing.org.
About Community Solutions
Community Solutions has been a trusted provider in the community since 1972. They provide a comprehensive spectrum of prevention, intervention, treatment, and residential services to the communities of Santa Clara and San Benito Counties. We provide services and support to help children, families, and individuals overcome the challenges posed by mental health issues, substance misuse, trauma, , sexual and domestic violence, and human trafficking. Our mission is to create opportunities for positive change by promoting and supporting the full potential of individuals, the strengths of families, and the well-being of our community. For more information visit www.communitysolutions.org.
About Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara (CCSCC) works to strengthen individuals and families to build economic self-reliance in the county. Since the start of the pandemic, CCSCC has served more than 32,000,000 meals and over 120,000 people in our community and continues through the recovery. Our programs serve all ethnicities and religions and include behavioral health, youth and family services, economic development, employment, financial education, supportive housing, immigration legal services, in-home and long-term care, older adult services, refugee foster care, and more. Catholic Charities is working to reduce poverty with social change goals that target the alleviation, prevention, and reduction of poverty in our communities. More Information visit ccscc.org.