Originally published September 24, 2013 at 10:42 a.m., updated September 24, 2013 at 7:49 p.m.
San Diego city leaders and community members on Tuesday celebrated the completion of 25 home rehabilitations in City Heights.
Homeowners received comprehensive upgrades on their aging homes, including interior and exterior painting, window replacement, plumbing and roof repairs to help lift their property values while increasing community pride.
Homeowner Francisca Ortega smiled ear to ear as she showed off her new kitchen counters, windows, electrical work and paint job to dozens of city leaders and community groups who came to her home to celebrate the completion.
The project, organized by the City Heights Community Development Corporation (CHCDC) and funded in part by the city of San Diego and federal block grants, is an ongoing effort to stabilize low-income communities by uplifting property values and creating neighborhood pride, said CHCDC Neighborhood Enhancement Manager Mary Otero.
"Because a lot of these property owners, they can’t afford to fix the roofs, they can’t afford to fix the windows, they can’t afford to paint their home," explained Otero.
Behind the construction scenes was a group of at-risk youth with Urban Corps who were given the opportunity to learn construction skills while earning a high school diploma.
"It makes me feel better about myself that I can do something to change the community -- my community," said Martin Lopez, a 23-year-old Urban Corps student and lifelong resident of City Heights.
"I’m going to graduate in December, so I’m getting into construction, like this type of work," said Lopez.
Another Urban Corps student, Yusra Iqab moved to San Diego from Iraq three years ago. Iqab said she worked on Ortega's house for two weeks.
"We did the kitchen and we painted the house and we did the water heater and fixed some wood," said Iqab.
Iqab said she’s excited about the skills she’s learning.
"I’m feeling great, we do something wonderful," said Iqab.