The decrepit old supermarket warehouse and cannery in Oakland, California, was no place to call home. It was cold in winter and there were leaks everywhere. But for 17 years, it housed some of Alameda County, California's homeless population--until Wendy Jackson, executive director of the East Oakland Community Project, decided to change things. "I wanted to help create an environment where people could wake up and say, 'Okay, things are bad, but I have a clean environment where I can work on my other issues,'" Jackson says. So in 1999, she started talking about a new shelter.Eight years of fundraising, planning and building later, Crossroads was born.
Less than a block from the old warehouse, the bright and airy 125-bed building has tile floors, ceiling fans everywhere and a vibrant mural painted by community members in the entrance hall. "I started looking at it from the point of view of not hurting the people who are here, not hurting the environment and durability," Jackson explains.