BUILDING A BETTER BAY AREA: Fremont
In Fremont, like many large cities, there are people for whom the living comes day-to-day... and where they find it.
"For the longest time in Fremont, we did not want to acknowledge that we had a big city problem like homelessness," said Louis Chicoine. "The test of a good community is how well it takes care of those who have the least."
Louis grew up in Fremont. Twenty-five years ago, he founded Abode Services, which has developed low-income housing for some 5,000 people in six Bay Area counties, including Fremont.
"The only reason that we develop is that it's a need. So we're based on a mission. Our mission is to really end homelessness for people."
"Are you a saint?" we asked.
Tina Singletary might disagree. "He is definitely a blessing." Tina and her boyfriend, Billy Joe, have lived in Fremont's Laguna Commons for three years. It is an Abode Services property.
"No matter how badly you mess up in life, it's what you do after you make the mistake that counts." For her, 'after' means a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen, even a pet. This is what comes from a nonprofit working with landlords and government subsidies.
"They are going to give you a place, you still have to put in the effort and the time and show them that you really want it," said Tina.
"A lot of people can actually get out of homelessness by having affordable rents," said Louis.
He could have made a fortune as a developer. The people he has helped would say he already has. "It means everything. It means I can have a real life again," Tina told us.
"So you can look at yourself in the mirror?" we asked Louis.
"Yes I can."
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