Woman loses home to foreclosure, becomes homeless, finds new home in transit village

Christmas came early for hundreds of low-income and homeless people in Oakland. 

They are moving into a new affordable housing complex right next to the Fruitvale BART station. 

"This is the Christmas present, right?" said Nicole Thomas as she showed a KTVU crew her new home: a two bedroom, 1 bath apartment. 

It's among the apartments and townhouses in a complex called Casa Arabella. 

It's part of the Fruitvale Transit Village located on a city-owned BART station parking lot.

"It means that me and my children can be together and we can have peace of mind," said Thomas, who's a widow. 

She and her three children have been moving from place to place, staying with relatives and even rented an Airbnb to stay off the streets.

The struggle started when Thomas lost the home she owned to foreclosure almost a year ago. 

"Right before Thanksgiving, I was wondering what I was going to do to find a place to live," said Thomas. 

She was among more than 4,000 homeless and low-income applicants for the 94 units.

Tenants are chosen by a lottery.  

The Fruitvale Transit Village is the result of a partnership between government agencies and nonprofits such as The Unity Council.  

"It's a true success story for Oakland," said Chris Iglesias, CEO of The Unity Council. 

The project broke ground in February 2018, cost $60 million, and is funded by city, county, state and federal dollars.

In addition to housing, there are on-site services including job training, education and transportation. 

Advocates say more of this type of affordable housing is necessary.  

"We want to continue to look around Fruitvale. We want to look around the Coliseum, Lake Merritt and take advantage of the prime transit hubs," said Iglesias.   

The Unity Council said this project is only the beginning. It hopes to begin construction on an even bigger housing complex, 181 units next year. 

As for Thomas, she has signed a one-year lease for her apartment.  Rent is around $1,600 a month.

She hopes to own her own home again in three to five years.

For more information on future projects or how to apply for housing: www.unitycouncil.org