Building Communities. Fulfilling Dreams

Family travels to Washington , D.C., to discuss project

The Desert Sun — June 20, 2003


The Garcia family went on its first trip outside of California last weekend.

The trip to Washington , D.C. , for the National Rural Housing Summit is something the Mecca family will never forget, even though it wasn’t vacation.

“It was an honor to be there as representatives of the (Self Help Home) program so that people could see the real results and families whose lives are changed by the program,” said Mecca resident Jose Garcia.

The Garcias were one of five families chosen from across the nation to attend the summit and the designing of a Memorandum of Understand between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development.

The agreement will establish a working relationship between the two agencies that will coordinate policies and activities to improve the living conditions of residents of Southwest.

Martha Mendez former, urban planning specialist for the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition, said the ultimate goal is to provide homes for 5.5 million minority families throughout the Southwest by 2010.

The Housing Coalition runs the Self Help Home program in the valley which allows low-income families to build their own homes as a form of down payment.

The agreement between the USDA and HUD could mean more grants and funding will become available to organizations like the Housing Coalition, she said.

Mendez said that having the Garcia family in Washington helped housing officials see the importance of such programs.

“They really got to see the impact they can,” she said.

For the Garcia family, Self Help allowed them to move from a 12-by 25-foot house with a 6-foot high ceiling to a new four bedroom house.

It took the family seven months to build the home they moved into eight days.

“This is a dream come true for us,” Jose Garcia said.

During the signing of the agreement of Monday, 14-year-old Armando Garcia stood before his family and various housing and government officials and tell them how the program has changed his life.

“I told them I liked having my own room thanked them for making my dream come true,” he said.

Jose Garcia said he hopes his family serves as an example of the success of such programs.

We now have our home, but there are thousands of families who are just like us who don’t have one,” he said.