During the first week of March, several of our team walked a few blocks from our downtown San Jose office to Villas on the Park to celebrate the grand opening. At the time, COVID-19 restrictions were starting to appear (the shelter in place order would come a week later) but we were thrilled to attend and pleased to support this important project with our multifamily lending and our Finally Home Security Deposit Program. The incredible work by Affirmed Housing and PATH helped create 83 homes in downtown San Jose, but the work in making homes doesn’t end when the construction crews leave – our friends at PATH are constantly at work to make sure each apartment is a home for every resident. We were fortunate to speak with two residents of Villas on the Park, Arthur and Sandy.
Born and raised in San Jose, Arthur fell into homelessness in his twenties and spent time in makeshift tents near creeks and around downtown. More than ten years of being homeless took a toll on his health, and it was through a wellness check by an Abode Services outreach team that he learned about Villas on the Park, an Affirmed Housing development in downtown San Jose for which Housing Trust provided predevelopment funding and security deposit grants for most of the residents.
Arthur moved into Villas on the Park in late January, and he was struck by how much his quality of life has changed since. “I was not used to having power and water,” Arthur told us, recalling the nights of sneaking onto outdoor patios of coffee shops to try and discreetly power up his cell phone. “I stay in touch with people and it makes a difference to keep a cell phone charged.”
With refrigeration and a way to cook food, Arthur is back up to a healthy weight and doesn’t have to live with the stress of worrying about theft. His well-being has also gotten much better because he can visit with his family who lives nearby, and he is very active in many of the programs at Villas on the Park run by PATH, including a ‘social distancing walk club’ as well as classes to deal with stress and other ways to keep the residents engaged.
Homeless since 18, Sandy spent years living in different encampments around San Jose – counting the Guadalupe River Trail and St. James Park. Theft was common, and she’d been robbed several times including her bicycle. In late 2019, PATH helped her find and apply to live in Villas on the Park, an 83 home Affirmed Housing development in San Jose for which Housing Trust provided a catalytic early stage pre-development loan to get development plans across the finish line. PATH helped her apply and receive a Housing Trust Finally Home grant to cover the security deposit. After so many years of experiencing homelessness, Sandy will not forget the move-in day of November 2nd.
“I felt safe – like no one was going to come and take anything from me,” Sandy told us, adding that she hasn’t had to worry about her bike or other belongings since moving in. “Nobody was going to come pick me up, harass me, or nothing like that, I feel very secure here.”
A naturally outgoing person, Sandy adjusted quickly to her new living situation and appreciates the work the staff does to keep her and her neighbors engaged. “When you’re homeless you’re not interacting with anyone, and there are programs here that help everyone feel like part of a team, and the PATH staff is awesome.”
We agree wholeheartedly with Sandy – and give thanks to Affirmed Housing, PATH, and all of our partners for every role they fill making sure all of our neighbors can find home.