Our vision is a vibrant and thriving Jane Addams Neighborhood in Fresno, Ca, including quality affordable safe housing options for low and moderate income families.
Who We Serve
We serve 6,700 residents of the Jane Addams neighborhood of Fresno, California. We serve community residents ranging from those who have been homeowners here for fifty years, to families living in motels on the side of the freeway, to the migrant communities in mobile home parks with neighbors from the same hometowns in Oaxaca. We interact with the residents with humility and curiosity - seeking to understand and strengthen their visions for the improvement of the neighborhood.
A Community in Need
Half of the 6,700 residents living in the Jane Addams neighborhood live in poverty, meaning everyone's lives in a neighborhood of highly concentrated poverty. 77% of the neighborhood is below 200% of the poverty line. Over half of renters pay more than 30% of their income on rent. Out of 1,700 households, 66% are renters and 20% of households live in mobile homes or other units, such as motel rooms. There are 1,200 rooms on Motel Drive, many of them are rented by families as their primary residence. Some of the motels have never been updated since being constructed in the 1950s. Despite recent efforts at increasing curb appeal, interior conditions remain dismal. Jane Addams is also home to more mobile home parks than any other part of the city. While mobile homes represent an affordable ownership opportunity, many trailers are old and inefficient to heat and cool The immediate need is for quality, safe affordable housing for low-income and moderate-income families.
Cut off from the rest of Fresno by Highway 99 and the railroad tracks, Jane Addams has suffered decades of dis- and under-investment. The neighborhood is included in the Downtown Neighborhood Community Plan and has the most vacant land out of all of Fresno's historic (pre WWII) neighborhoods. Due to piecemeal development and city incorporation patterns, there is limited infrastructure such as sidewalks and paved roads. There have been zero new housing units in the last decade, and minimal units constructed since 1990.
The Legacy of Jane Addams
Jane Addams was born on September 6, 1860 in Cedarville, Illinois, the eighth of nine children. Addams won worldwide recognition in the twentieth century as a pioneer social worker in America, as a feminist, and as an internationalist.
According to NobelPrize.org, In 1889 Addams and her friend Ellen G. Starr leased a large home built by Charles Hull at the corner of Halsted and Polk Streets. The two friends moved in, their purpose, as expressed later, being "to provide a center for a higher civic and social life; to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago." Addams and Starr made speeches about the needs of the neighborhood, raised money, convinced young women of well-to-do families to help, took care of children, nursed the sick, listened to outpourings from troubled people. By its second year of existence, Hull-House was host to two thousand people every week. There were kindergarten classes in the morning, club meetings for older children in the afternoon, and for adults in the evening more clubs or courses in what became virtually a night school. The first facility added to Hull-House was an art gallery, the second a public kitchen; then came a coffee house, a gymnasium, a swimming pool, a cooperative boarding club for girls, a book bindery, an art studio, a music school, a drama group, a circulating library, an employment bureau, a labor museum.
Addams was deeply involved in the progressive movement, including labor rights and the women’s right to vote. She was a founding member of the NAACP, WILPF, the ACLU and more. Jane Addams won the Nobel Peace prize in 1931. She died in 1935, beloved by her neighborhood above all else.
Jane Addams in the 1920s, sourced from the Library of Congress