Carlos Williams moved into the Fell Street Apartments in 1995. Back then the neighborhood, known as Hayes Valley, was being reborn.
A freeway once bisected the area, but was torn down after the Loma Prieta earthquake damaged it severely.
Fell Street Apartments, a complex of 82 affordable units, was designed to anchor the district as it transitioned through a challenging period. Now, an urban park sits in the footprint of the old freeway. The area has become a shopping destination; small business like an ice cream parlor, bookstore and beauty salon line the blocks.
“When I first got here,” Carlos says, “it was just a blessing to have a place to stay that is really affordable.”
With his mother and sister, Carlos settled in a three-bedroom apartment. The trio moved from a home in Ocean View after rent in the neighborhood had become too expensive. When Carlos’ ill mother passed a few years later, he decided to stay at Fell Street in a one bedroom.
“What I like about this place, is it’s central to everything,” he says. “I love the location.” Though Carlos rides his bike to most places, including his job as a security officer at a downtown high rise, he’s grateful that he can park his car in the building’s garage, or take nearby public transportation if necessary.
Having so many options is important to Carlos, who keeps a busy schedule. On the weekends, he works as a deejay, setting the soundtrack for what he calls “rites of passage” – weddings, bar mitzvahs and the like. He also plays the keyboards as a jazz musician. And to fulfill his dream of becoming a high school math teacher, he takes night classes to complete his bachelor’s degree and credential. “I have a full life,” Carlos says.Back to all stories