KALW: Rethinking poverty in Alameda Point, January 18, 2012

[Includes audio report]


Driving to Alameda Point in the East Bay may leave a first timer a little lost. It’s out towards the waterfront, past the Victorian neighborhoods of downtown Alameda. Close to the point, the land becomes vast, open, and quiet. There are WWII-era ships across the Bay, which let visitors know that this place was once something different. It used to be the Alameda Air Station until it was closed down in the mid 90s. That was when the government re-purposed the housing and designated Alameda Point for the displaced and homeless.

There aren’t many people out on the streets and many structures around the area are abandoned. That’s what makes the land seem so desolate. Still, there are some trees on the streets lined with generic-looking bungalows and apartment buildings. The buildings are part of the Alameda Point Collaborative (A.P.C.).

Doug Biggs is the executive director of A.P.C. “We're an entire community out here. It's not just like other housing programs. Other homeless programs are a facility, but we're a real neighborhood,” said Biggs.

A.P.C. serves about 500 homeless people, more than half of which are children. The adults – often single mothers – work in job training programs for at least six months. After they graduate, A.P.C. helps them find new jobs outside the community.