Home Sweet Abode

Hard-hitting renovations for hard-working families

Nestled in a cul-de-sac in the Cambrian neighborhood of San Jose sits an unassuming four-unit building with children’s bikes scattered out front. Owned by the nonprofit Abode Services, the building actually provides a vital service to the community by providing four families with young children a place to live as they regain self-sufficiency.

Two years ago, Abode was approached by another nonprofit who could no longer afford to operate several supportive housing properties. Though they agreed to take on the aging buildings, Abode knew that the properties would need lots of TLC, the Cambrian four-unit included. That’s when they approached HIF.

HIF saw an opportunity to provide a decent and safe place for these four families – and the many families that would follow.  Outside, the building looked worn out by the dozens of families who had passed through its doors, with minimal landscaping and an entryway stairwell that was so dated that it was out of code.  Inside, the kitchen countertops were cracked and warped, and it was becoming hard to keep track of which bathrooms leaked and which did not. The flooring in the units had been replaced piecemeal for years, creating a dizzying array of mismatched vinyl, missing transitions, and stained carpet.

With Mark Fuller of ML Nielsen Construction at the helm as volunteer project leader, HIF recruited a group of dedicated industry partners to help make the project possible. Over a dozen companies stepped up to challenge, including Appliance Parts Distributor, Aquatek Plumbing, B. Taylor Painting, Brook Furniture Rental, Cultured Marble Products, Hurst Custom Cabinets and Finish Cabinetry, ML Nielsen Construction, Moen, Sherwin-Williams, Signature Carpet One Floor and Home, United Fence Services, and VSS Countertops. And the work wasn’t just left to the professionals: on a warm weekday in May, 22 software engineers from On-Site, the Campbell-based apartment technology provider, grabbed paintbrushes and donated over 150 hours of their time as part of the HIF Corporate Champion program.

For 29 days, crews worked to transform the units inside and out, and it showed: the building sparkled and, perhaps more importantly, so did the residents’ smiles when they came home to their “new” apartments. The market value of the repairs totaled over $90,000, though HIF was able to complete the project for much less because of the generosity of in-kind donors.