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Art Hall sitting on the patio at Family Supportive Housing

Art Hall sitting on the patio at Family Supportive Housing

‘I’ve Been Training for This Job My Entire Life’

After 30 years of running from himself, Arthur Hall MA ’22 has finally found a calling as deputy director for Family Supportive Housing in San Jose.

After 30 years of running from himself, Arthur Hall MA ’22 has finally found a calling as deputy director for Family Supportive Housing in San Jose. 

For three years, Arthur Hall MA ’22 spent his Wednesday nights serving dinner at Family Supportive Housing (FSH) in San Jose. It was the first activity he participated in at the shelter—and remains his favorite.

“There are people who have lived in San Jose for generations, and when a supporting member passes away, is disabled, or goes into retirement–their family can’t afford to take over,” says Art, who is earning a graduate degree in applied psychology at Santa Clara University. “The problem is there’s no place for people to live, so we need more housing development. We’re losing families, generations of connections and history, and right now we’re finally getting to the point where they are trying to build more housing.”

In 2019, the Association of Bay Area Governments determined that 84 percent of Silicon Valley rental units were unaffordable for low- or moderate income households. Single and two-parent families with children who can’t afford housing are left with few options and many are forced onto the streets. These are the people FSH serves, offering them temporary emergency housing, food, and supportive services throughout the South Bay.

Art Hall talks to food service volunteers in the cafeteria at Family Supportive Housing in San Jose.

Art Hall talks to food service volunteers in the cafeteria at Family Supportive Housing in San Jose.

Finding housing is something that especially resonates with Art. He was a child of divorce, ultimately leaving a dysfunctional household at just 15 years old to live on the streets. He struggled to find stable housing until joining the Army at 18. After serving, Art worked in the tech industry, first as a Field Service Technician. But, for years, he struggled to outrun his past. “I was stuck inside a tequila bottle,” Art says. “I spent 30 years running from the way that I felt, running from what my reality was. I didn’t want to feel how I felt when my parents got divorced and I was on the streets.”

For many, addiction can be a life sentence, but Art was able to break the cycle nine years ago. “I finally got help—I asked God for help—because I couldn’t do it anymore,” Art says.”From that point on I kept my promise.”

It was during Art’s first year of sobriety that he decided to volunteer at FSH. He had heard about the non-profit through the company he worked for at the time. Art decided he wanted to give back to his own community in San Jose and signed up to volunteer.

About a year later, still working in tech, he went back to school to make up for lost time–right before turning 50.

Art earned an associate’s degree in computer information systems-Microsoft networks from San Jose City College. From there, he studied the subject of rehabilitation through an online program offered by the University of North Texas. As part of his program, Art did counseling at Salvation Army in San Jose. He loved the work and decided to pursue it further, applying to Santa Clara’s School of Education and Counseling. He is set to receive his master's degree in applied psychology this month.

Through the program at Santa Clara, Art has learned a lot about empathy—not just the emotional ability to understand and share the feelings of another, but the skills behind it. For example, how to ask open-ended questions, how to listen and approach a situation without bias, anger, or confusion. “I was able to change myself so much. I was able to look at myself and take care of things that I needed to take care of in the way that I approach life and other people,” he says.

With the help of Professor Dale G. Larson, Art was trained in motivational interviewing and how to apply empathy when making complex decisions. He learned how to consult families objectively and ethically; to look at the bigger picture and question whether his suggestions could be generalized to all families, or if they were specific to just one. On a broader scale, Art says he’s become more aware of how to approach people with unconditional positive regard, a skill he uses all the time with the staff, co-workers, and families at FSH.

While he’ll miss doing the clinical work and seeing classmates grow, Art has been able to parlay these experiences into opportunities at the Bill Wilson Center, where he’ll work in grief counseling. He held his first counseling group meeting in April.

Art also found a full-time calling at FSH. During the pandemic, his role there expanded and he became a member of the board of Directors, building community awareness about the shelter. Last summer, FSH Executive Director Beth Leary asked Art to join her in running the shelter.

Art has always been inspired by FSH’s mission to end family homelessness in its community—a quote he keeps pinned up on his office wall. Ultimately, he hopes those on the streets recognize that FSH has a path for them so that they don’t spend that first night in their car.

It takes a certain person to want to work with and support the unhoused, Art says, and he thinks he’s finally found his calling. 

“I’ve been training for this job my entire life.”



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