'House of Light' shines as a beacon of possibility across the South Bay

Healing lives in the South Bay came full circle for staffers at CityTeam. One family’s donation will allow for more than a dozen formerly homeless women and their children to have a place to live.

On a gloomy damp Thursday in the Willow Glen section of San Jose, the ceremonial snipping of red ribbon ushers in light.

“Shining our lights is helping to make the world a better place,” said Nanette Kinkade, the benefactor of the CityTeam House of Light.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, representatives from CityTeam, and other dignitaries gathered to officially open the “House of Light” as a rainstorm moved through town. The six-bedroom, six-bathroom dwelling is a haven for homeless women and their children. 

“There’s about one-third of people that are homeless, some women and children. And so the women that are calling our program are desperate,” said Melody Alvarado, a program manager for CityTeam.

She said the idea of housing such participants was born in late 2018. But it took time to find a suitable property. The house was originally purchased by CityTeam in the 1970s as a boys' home. But it was sold, and fell into disrepair. Fast-forward to last year, when the Kinkade family purchased, then restored and donated the home for use by homeless women and their children enrolled in CityTeam programs.

“It’s beautiful, it’s beautiful,” said Monica Juarez, who now lives at the house with her daughter.

She had a substance abuse problem before entering a CityTeam recovery program. A year later, she’s sober, and getting back on her feet.

“This is just an extra little piece that we now have as a resource once we complete the program,” said Juarez. “It’s allowed me to learn responsibility and learn independent living. It’s also provided a safe place for me and my 7-year-old daughter.”

About a dozen companies donated materials for the year-long renovation. Transforming the house from eyesore to neighborhood jewel. Fourteen women are now able to stay in the House of Light for up to one year, as they transition into the next phase of their lives.

“We understand that the need is great for women and children. So we at CityTeam are working and our efforts are towards expanding women and children's services. We know that this is just a start. But we’re excited to see where this grows to,” said Alverado.

The property has new amenities, and special creature comforts to help mothers gain balance over their new home lives. Officials say they hope the light from this house shines as a beacon of possibility across the South Bay.