Caring for needy students, neighborhoods

Fresno is California’s fifth largest city and, with one of four people living below the poverty level, the U.S. Census Bureau ranks it as the state’s most impoverished large metropolitan areas.

One of downtown Fresno’s most blighted areas is the so-called Lowell neighborhood around Community Regional Medical Center. Among those trying to revitalize the area is Steve Walter, Community’s corporate chief financial officer.

Walter trades his workday calculator and spreadsheets for off-hours work, wielding sheetrock and sledgehammers as he rehabilitates aging, broken homes he’s purchased.

“We need to help people who live here to improve their quality of life, and upgrading their housing is one step toward alleviating the extreme poverty," said Walter.

Erin Kennedy reported this story. She can be reached at