Alberto and Margarita Gutierrez
Alberto and Margarita Gutierrez, and their eight children, are proud new homeowners at the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition's Paseo de los Heroes Mobile Home Park in Mecca. A housing development designed by CVHC to serve families displaced from unpermitted mobile home parks, the community features a Migrant Head Start center, a computer lab, an After-School program, community building meetings and recreational areas.
The Gutierrez families came to the United States in 1994 from Guanajuato, Mexico, where they worked in a construction company making as little as 50.00 pesos a day ($5 U.S. Dollars). "It was just enough to eat," Mr. Gutierrez said.
The Gutierrez Family decided to come to the United States with the hope of providing a better future for their growing family. "It was very hard to find a place to stay. When we first found the trailer park (where we lived close to ten years) we thought it was going to be only temporary, but as we looked around we found out that it was very hard to find anything else," Mr. Gutierrez said.
The 400-square-foot trailer where the Gutierrez lived was not only old and crowded, but lacked basic amenities such as clean water and a steady supply of electricity. The Gutierrez would pool electricity from a neighbor, a line that also supplied four other trailers. "It was hard in the summer when all the trailers had their swap coolers on. The electricity would go out; many times leaving us with no way to keep cool in temperatures that often times can reach 117 degrees." Mr. Gutierrez said.
In early 2003 their small trailer burned to the ground due to all the exposed electrical cords. "We were left with nothing, but we needed to find a place to stay for our eight children, Luis Alberto (15 years old), Adrian (12 years old), Claudia (10 years old), Paola (7 years old), Mariana (6 years old), Melissa (3 years old), Alma (2 years old) and Flavio now 8 months."
It wasn't long until the Gutierrez family was forced to leave the apartment they had found. The $800 a month payment was too much for two farm workers and eight children to spend. They were force to move into a friend's garage. The Gutierrez family never expected to live in these extreme living conditions when they moved to the United States from Mexico.
When they heard that Paseo de los Heroes was opening and accepting applications, their prayers were answered. They quickly applied and their application was processed. The Gutierrez family was able to get a new mobile home that's 100 percent financed at a zero percent interest rate. Paseo de lo Heroes has made a big difference in the life of the Gutierrez family. Their school-age children attend the computer center almost on a daily basis where they are able to do their home work. The younger children are able to attend the Migrant Head Start center at a reduced rate based on their income. And the family is now in a safe, supportive housing community that they will be able to afford for the rest of their lives.