Hayward, CA – When we enter a space that provides services, it matters what greets us: the welcoming feel, décor, visuals that represent us, a pot of coffee, a computer or a printer we can use, and most importantly, someone to say hello and ask how we’re doing. At Pacheco Court, staff have been working on improvements to the community room – and the services being offered there – to create a more welcoming and helpful space.

An Oakland native, Lisa Soriano has worked for BOSS for 1 ½ years, including at Ursula Sherman Village, Casa Maria, and as a Housing Navigator, providing housing search and placement assistance, and follow up to make sure people are stable and doing well in housing. Lisa recently shifted her efforts in BOSS to Pacheco Court – permanent supportive housing program in Hayward.

Pacheco resident Tiffany Smith and her beautiful family!

Pacheco Court was founded in 1992 as transitional housing for homeless individuals experiencing mental illness or other disabilities. In 2014 Pacheco converted to permanent supportive housing. A collection of small cottages with a shared driveway and adjacent front yards, residents have their own private living units, and there is a community room at the end of the driveway. This room had gone under-utilized for a long time, and when Lisa arrived, she determined to change that.

She cleaned up the space and made sure there were places to sit, rest, and talk. She added plants, and put bottled water in the refrigerator. She even started making lemonade using lemons from the tree on the property.

Lisa is working with BOSS IT Director Gina Tomlinson to have computers installed in the community room, so residents who do not have their own computers can stop by to work on resumes, check emails, communicate with health or service providers, and other online tasks.

“It’s more inviting,” she says. “People see that it’s changed here.”

“It’s more inviting,” she says. “People see that it’s changed here.”

While full use of the community room is not yet possible (only one visitor at a time is permitted under COVID 19 safety protocols), Lisa is determined to make the space safe, comfortable, welcoming, and vibrant. Group activities will eventually return to the space, and whether one resident is using it at a time, or several, it is an important place for Pacheco residents – a place they can talk freely with Lisa, who cares deeply about each resident and how they are doing.

Pacheco resident Anthony Moreno, helping unpack supplies

Last month, she procured some food donations and did a food giveaway to all residents. With physical distancing, items were put on tables for one-at-a-time pick ups. There was enough food to give leftovers to other Shelter Plus Care (rental subsidy program) participants.

Lisa also created two large bulletin boards with lots of helpful information – one focused on COVID 19 prevention and treatment, and one about local resources available to people. And she didn’t stop there.

“I reached out to everyone to educate them on the census,” she says, “and made sure they know how important it is to fill it out.”

Residents like the changes, and are participating more actively in taking care of themselves and their units – even gardening in their yards.

“I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback,” Lisa says.  We have no doubt!  ♦

Want to help? Donate plants, soil and gardening supplies for Pacheco residents – Contact Gwen Austin at gaustin@self-sufficiency.org or 510.649.1930 x 1001.

Or DONATE now to support Pacheco and other BOSS housing programs!