The 145-unit building sits on Kifer Road and is the first supportive housing development in the City of Santa Clara as well as the first affordable housing community Destination: Home helped fund through the Supportive Housing & Innovation Fund.
Today, Calabazas is home to a diverse group of low-income households, roughly half of whom previously experienced homelessness. Like many of their Calabazas neighbors, the causes of homelessness for Celeste and Fred are unexpected, but not uncommon, life changes.
Celeste’s descent into homelessness started with the sudden passing of her husband five years ago. She was still dealing with the shock when her house was taken away.
“I’d lived in Santa Clara for 36 years. And then, I didn’t have a place to go.”Celeste
Celeste struggled to find a stable place to live, first staying in a hotel room, then with her daughters, next, with her sister. She stayed with a friend when she could no longer live with her sister, but eventually found herself struggling to stay in hotel rooms again.
“It’s really good. But it’s not home. In the back of my mind, I thought, ‘Do I have the $100 or $90 [a night]? Do I have that and where do I get all this money?”Celeste
Loss was also the cause for Fred’s experience of being homeless. After losing his job at a phone company, he bounced around cars and hotels.
Unfortunately, the cause of Fred’s homelessness was not unique to him. According to the 2019 Homeless Census, a lost job is the top reported cause of homelessness. In fact, economic factors are one of the many deeply rooted causes of homelessness in our community.
“Perhaps we’re all two paychecks away from being homeless. You’ve got to have a job to be able to afford rent around here so without the job, I didn’t have the house or apartment or rent.Fred
Once strangers united only by their former experiences of being unhoused, Celeste and Fred now share something else in common: the fact that they each have a home at Calabazas.
It’s incredible. You know, I can sleep at night and I have my own restroom, my own shower, my own bathtub…It’s a relief.Fred
For Celeste, the change was not only physical. She recalled having taught students that were unhoused when she was a public school teacher, and the difference in her perception of people experiencing homelessness then.
When I experienced homelessness, I think I began to be more compassionate. If I was compassionate before, I am more now because I was once one of them.Celeste
Celeste and Fred are able to call Calabazas Community Apartments their home as a result of the collaboration of many dedicated key partners and their commitment to increasing the supply of affordable and permanent housing in our community .
The development is one of the newest projects from Abode Services, who both developed the site and oversees all of the on-site operations and services, and received major funding from the 2016 countywide Measure A affordable housing bond.
The private sector has played a key role as well.
In addition, Calabazas Community Apartments is one of 30 extremely low income and supportive housing developments to receive early private funding through our Supportive Housing & Innovation Fund – thanks to historic $50 million contributions from both Cisco and Apple. In fact, our dollars filled a key funding gap that would have derailed this project (read more in this recent Mercury News article exploring the impact of Cisco’s contributions to addressing homelessness). The engagement extends beyond funding, with Apple recently visiting the community for a morning of volunteering, working with residents in the computer lab and beautifying the common areas.
Calabazas Community Apartments is not only a home for many members of our community, it is also a demonstration of what’s possible when all sectors of our community – public and private – work together to address the root causes of our homelessness crisis and build the affordable housing our community so desperately needs.
If we can continue finding the political will to scale these proven solutions, we can ensure that more people like Celeste and Fred have access to a safe and stable home.
It’s just by the grace of God that I am here. Fred, the other residents, and I each have a place to call ours. That means a lot.Celeste