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This was the first time that Evelyn Rios (81) and her husband Joe, experienced a water scarcity so severe, their entire wellbeing was impacted. The Rios’ have lived in their home for over 48 years and were actually part of the pioneering group of folks to build their homes through Self-Help Enterprises’ Mutual Self-Help Program back in 1970.

The Rios’ are deeply rooted in family and have five generations to prove it. They have a total of 5 (living) children, 15 grandchildren, 46 great grandchildren and 10 great great grandchildren. While these days, it’s difficult to all get together, they find immense joy in knowing they are responsible for it all. Now in their 80’s and with various health issues, the Rios’ were in many ways more susceptible to the effects of the drought than most. Read full story here.

Valerie Olivarez (36) first came to Self-Help Enterprises (SHE) to ask about the first-time homebuyer program. After her partner passed away in 2016, Valerie, now a single mother of 5, was determined to buy a home and set the foundation for a better and more stable future for her family. “It was a very difficult time that made me think about life differently,” said Valerie. “I knew I needed to do this for my kids.”

After having attended a Gateway program orientation and meeting with Juanita Franco, a SHE Homeownership Counselor, she learned that she did not have any credit and therefore did not qualify for the first-time homebuyer program. A study from  LendEDU  has shown the Central Valley to have among the lowest of credit scores. Valerie, like many in the region, struggled with having little to no credit. She knew she had a lot of work to do, but was determined. Read full story here.

Susan Morgan spent many years working as a Social Worker in the Central Valley. Now retired, Susan struggles with health issues that have left her permanently disabled and in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, for the past several years, Susan has dealt with inadequate living conditions (such as leaking roofs, bad electrical) and a space that was simply not built for a someone in a wheelchair. Moving around the house was almost impossible— so impossible, in fact, that in the past, Susan has gone months straight without ever stepping foot outside. But relocating has never been an option, “My parents built this home back in 1954, right before I started kindergarten,” Susan shared. “This is the only home I ever knew.” For obvious reasons, this home meant a lot to Susan.

She first learned about Self-Help Enterprises through a friend that had previously worked with SHE’s Rehabilitation Program to improve her home. Upon initial assessment, James Clark, Rehabilitation Specialist at Self-Help Enterprises, determined that Susan’s house was in dire need of improvements. “Her home was so unsafe and unhealthy and impossible for her to get around and out of the house,” said James. “She had to get out of her wheelchair to go into the bathroom.” Read full story here.
On December 28, SHE began construction for the new Sequoia Commons –a 66-unit affordable rental community in Goshen. The rental project is phase I of a two-phase project located on the 6.85-acre multifamily parcel at the southwest corner of Riggin and west of Road 76, and will include 22 one-bedroom units, 22 two-bedroom units, and 22 three-bedroom units. Its’ amenities will consist of a community building of nearly 3,072 square feet, and an outdoor common area with a playground, barbecue pit and picnic tables. The community building will include a large community room with a kitchen and bathrooms, a laundry facility, computer lab, and a separate management office.
The project will serve working families at or below 50% AMI with rents ranging between $248 and $810. In addition, Sequoia Commons will include 100% solar PV to offset common area and resident loads, and water conservation/efficiency measures. Self-Help Enterprises will offer a robust program of on-site Resident Services, including job training, health and medical services, financial training and homebuyer education. Read about project financing here.
N eighborWorks Training Institute
For a few SHE staff, the first week of December was spent building their capacity at the Pittsburgh NeighborWorks Training Institute . Maria Herrera, Community Development Manager, found the training beneficial because she was able to connect with other individuals from the NeighborWorks Network working on similar projects. "Working together on group learning exercises enabled me to evaluate the type of community leadership capacity our organization and programs I oversee is fostering and evaluate my own community leadership powers."