Fresno charity helps Hotel California tenants turn around lives

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Weeks after the city of Fresno shut down their hotel homes, some of the city's poorest tenants are getting lifted back onto their feet. (KFSN)

Weeks after the city of Fresno shut down their hotel homes, some of the city's poorest tenants are getting lifted back onto their feet.

A new life is just starting for James Nelson and his two kids. Inside the warehouse for Wings Advocacy, he stood near new mattresses, just like the ones volunteers put on three brand new beds in his new apartment.

"We believe that every human being deserves the dignity to sleep in a bed and that providing a comfortable home environment improves the probability of a successful housing placement," said Anna Hecker of Wings Advocacy Fresno.

When last we met Nelson, his family of three lived in a tiny, often soaking wet apartment at the Hotel California. He worked as a handyman at and talked to me in hushed tones about mold and bugs in apartments he described as almost unlivable.

A month later, the housing authority found them a new home in southeast Fresno and wings stocked it with not just donated beds, but one of the goody baskets they give out to a few families every week - filled with toothpaste and toothbrushes, and detergent, and other household items.

"All the things I was worried about 'How am I going to get all these things because I just paid this guy all my money that I got,'" he said.

Nelson struggled to rent a nicer place because of his criminal history. But as he tries to help his kids learn from his mistakes, he says living at the Hotel California seemed like his only option, and high rent stymied any progress he made. Wings changed his outlook.

"They gave me the first start," he said. "I was trying to get there and someone said here let's help you get a little boost and let you grow, you know."

And as wings volunteers sorted through donations they're preparing for next week's families moving from homeless to new homes, they had one last surprise for Nelson -- a microwave to help him feed his kids.

If you'd like to make a donation or volunteer with Wings Advocacy Fresno, you can check out their website at www.wingsfresno.org or send an email to furnishings@wingsfresno.org.

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