By: Patty Machelor
May 8, 2010
Windows were broken, doors wouldn't shut tight, the cooler was malfunctioning and there wasn't heat.
Carrillo, a 62-year-old employee at Casino del Sol, applied for help from the city of South Tucson after hearing of a new revitalization program. She hoped her home could be restored, but learned it would cost more to fix than replace.
Now Carrillo is living in a new energy-efficient manufactured home, and the heartache over the demolition is lifting.
"It's more comfortable. I have windows to look out of, and I have an air conditioner and heating," she said.
Carrillo is one of several South Tucson residents benefiting from a collaboration between the city and the Primavera Foundation.
One of the primary focuses of the Neighborhood Revitalization and Stabilization Program is to restore or replace unsafe housing and provide more affordable housing.
The program started about two years ago, said Peggy Hutchinson, executive director of the Primavera Foundation.
Hutchinson said she was distressed to first learn some homes would need to be replaced instead of fixed up.
"There's a wealth of family history and family stories in these homes," she said.
With funding from different federal sources, about 17 owner-occupied home rehabilitations have been completed, and two modular homes have been built to replace unsafe homes. Hutchinson said three more replacement homes should be completed by the end of June, with five more to be completed in the next six months.
As part of the revitalization effort, donated trees are being offered at each rehabilitated or new home, Hutchinson said.
Gray-water connections are also being set up so people can put in gardens. Hutchinson said they are planning a community garden where people can grow vegetables and learn about gardening.
Primavera is also buying and restoring homes in foreclosure to sell to low-income families. The need for affordable housing is tremendous, she said.
"There's also a huge need for getting homes that are distressed and unsafe (to be) safe," she said.
Loose, hanging wires, homes without heat or cooling, and boarded-up windows and doors are common findings. Some homes have huge seams that open up to the outside, Hutchinson said, while other families are living with dirt floors and sagging, dangerous roofs.
"Many of these are seniors who are on fixed incomes and it may a third or fourth generation in the home," she said.
Julieta and Margarita Mendoza are sisters who have been living in a new modular home since October.
"The old house was a barn at one time. My father fixed it up as a house," Julieta said. But the sisters, who are in their 60s, couldn't keep up with repairs. There were holes in the walls and the roof, and the heater and cooler didn't work well.
"We were hot in the summer and freezing in the winter," she said.
When the old adobe home was demolished a year ago, the sisters mourned.
"I was very sad when they tore it down. We had to let it go, but that's all we had left of my parents," Julieta said.
She said the new two-bedroom, two-bath home suits them well.
"Now we don't have to fight over the bathroom like we used to do in the old house," Julieta said, laughing. "It's like a dream for us. We never thought it was going to happen."
Dreams are also coming true for Amparo Vasquez, a young wife and mother of six who is excited to move from a one-bedroom rental to a three-bedroom restored home.
"It's beautiful. It's a precious house. It's very big," said Amparo, 27. "This is a big opportunity for us."
Rudy Solis has also never owned a home before, but desperately wanted to buy one to share with his mother and his young nephew. Renting had gone on long enough, he said.
"It's just a waste of money," he said. "Somebody else is making all the money. Now we'll have a place of our own."
Solis, 34, said when he went to the bank to see what kind of loan he would qualify for, he was told about Primavera's program.
He is now getting ready to move into a new home.
"It's a really, really good program for people who don't meet all the requirements to buy a home," he said. "I'm really thankful for that."
Did you know
The Primavera Foundation was founded in 1982 as an organization to assist the homeless.