With new amenities that include a community green space, pool, BBQs, laundry facilities, a business center, a gated entry, and 24-hour security, the site of the old ‘Smuggler’s Inn’ is unrecognizable — in a good way.
‘The remodel of these units, turning them into a place where a family, an individual can be proud to live, is something that we’re very honored to support today,” said Fresno County Supervisor Steve Brandau.
The new ‘Crossroads Village’ celebrated its official grand opening Friday with a ribbon cutting and speeches from elected officials, current residents, and those that made the $14.8 million dollar, 165-unit property a reality.
The property is almost at 100% capacity.
Assistance for Homeless
“Crossroads Village is something that I believe is a model — not only a model throughout Fresno County — but a model throughout the state of California,” said Mayor Jerry Dyer.
Dyer also provided an update on the city’s ‘Project Off-Ramp’ effort to address homelessness. “I’m proud to say that as of this morning we surpassed having 208 people that were sleeping along our freeways two months ago are now in shelters,” said Dyer.
Fresno County, RH Community Builders, and UPholdings acquired and rehabilitated the Hotel Fresno (formerly the Smuggler’s Inn) on Blackstone and Dakota avenues to provide assistance to homeless people.
“With the ongoing support provided by our team and community providers, our residents can build a positive rental history, increase their income and continue their journey to stay permanently housed,” said Katie Wilbur, Executive Director of RH Community Builders. “When a new resident arrives at Crossroads Village, they’re often at their own crossroads.”
Delfino Neira, the county’s social services director, says the city is drawing a line in the sand with regards to the homeless issue.
“This is enough. This is where we stop, and we’re going to progress forward,” said Neira. He adds that’s it’s really important for his department to work with landlords and other people in the community to find permanent housing for the residents of Crossroads Village. “So that we can bring the next set of folks off the street and get them into permanent housing,” Neira said.
Money for the project was obtained through the Department of Housing and Community Development Homekey program. Kaiser Permanente provided a $510,000 grant to Enterprise Community Partners to provide funding for operational costs, wraparound services, and technical assistance for the project.
“This is a $15 million project, and that in and of itself sounds like a lot of money,” said Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig. “But when you break it all down, you’re going to get 165 units here that are affordable, which means that each unit is costing less than $100,000.”
The housing units range in price from $720-$795 a month. Residents sign one year leases and need to abide by rules or they can be evicted just like a traditional rental property.
The studio units include private bathrooms and showers, and a food preparation area with a hot plate, microwave and mini refrigerator. Each unit can accommodate up to two household members, and adjoining units allow for larger households to stay together.
Testimonies From Residents
Three of the facility’s newest residents took turns speaking before the official ribbon cutting.
“Living here at Crossroads allows me to get myself together,” said Lloyd Spaulding. “It’s a fresh start and I can rebuild myself.”
Aaron Jones said he lost his car and his job in the middle of last year, and couldn’t afford to continue the school course he’d begun. He says he wound up on the streets for several months before winding up at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital. After contracting COVID-19, he was introduced to RH Builders who were identifying people recovering from the virus who were in need of housing.
“They provided a wonderful place here for people in my situation,” said Jones. “It’s clean and it’s safe. It’s everything I could have hoped for to get back to my life.”
Cathy Miranda said she became homeless in 2012. She had previously worked in Colorado but needed to take family medical leave to care for her father in Fresno. She said she ran out of money before she could return to Colorado. After nearly nine years of homelessness, she was matched with Crossroads staff last month.
“Living here at Crossroads means a new start for me and new opportunities,” said Miranda. “I had access to case managers who helped me to stay on my feet.”
Future Plans for Crossroads Village
Future plans for Crossroads Village include the renovation of additional units that will include full kitchen amenities and offer more long term housing. The former hotel lobby is scheduled to be converted into a multi-use community center.