One west-side neighborhood features several vacant lots that the city bought way back in 1995 but did nothing to develop the parcels... until now.
On Thursday, city council will vote to sell five lots to the non-profit Our Casas group at a rock-bottom price so that residents who want to stay near family will have the best of old and new. They will be able to buy safe, new homes in an older neighborhood.
The group has been building homes for the last few years and people who are living the American dream are happy with the results.
Homeowner Diana Rendon said
"I love my home," homeowner Diana Rendon said. "Ever since I saw it, I fell in love with it."
Rendon calls her home a blessing. She says that without help, this goal would have been out of reach. Rendon also says that she is happy that others will now have the chance to follow her.
"It's very hopeful, and I'm hoping that I can have some very nice neighbors. And I'm looking forward to it," Rendon said.
"We're building like 13 new homes in the area," said Dario Chapa, the Executive Director of Our Casas, who added that the effort is a labor of love and a return to his roots.
"I used to live, like, five blocks that way," Chapa said, pointing to nearby Laredo Street.
Chapa also said that the group has already finished 45 homes and they are in the process of building more.
"We're going to make it to where it's a beautiful area, hopefully," he said.
Touring San Carlos Street on the banks of Apache Creek, Chapa explained that the area was in shambles until the redevelopment.
“About four houses down, there was a crack house and there were a few vacant, weeded lots here and we beautified the area, which is our goal, beautify the area where people are proud to live in and they're going to start moving back in,” said Chapa, who also noted that the area is home to many senior citizens who are now having health problems.
He said that many adults want to return to their old neighborhoods to care for their ailing elders.
"Their sons and daughters want to move back in. All we have to do is provide a nice product, a good looking home, healthy, safe, and everything,” Chapa said.
Chapa described how all the homes they have finished so far are in the range of 1,200 square feet. He said that they have three bedrooms, two baths, and central heating and air conditioning.
“We're going to probably sell them around $115,000 or $120,000 at the most [and] try to get them down payment and closing cost assistance so that it makes it easier for people to move in and buy a new home,” Chapa said.
In addition to monetary aid, Chapa says that the group can help prospective buyers prepare their finances.
“We can do all the paperwork for pre-purchasing a home. We can get their credit report free. We can work on their credit if they need to improve it so they can qualify for a mortgage loan and they we have banks we do business with. We recommend those banks,” Chapa said.
It will be awhile before they start turning dirt, but paperwork can be filled out now at the official website for anyone interested in being pre-qualified.
The addresses of the vacant lots that will have new homes are:
2406 Vera Cruz