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Dear Friends of CVHC:

Wow! 25 years! And more than 4,000 homes built or in the works. It started with a handful of dreamers and doers in a church basement in Coachella. Carole Harper, Father Ed Donovan, Sylvia Montenegro, Tom Plonski, Pedro Palomares and others concerned about the wretched farmworker housing conditions in the valley. Then came a $10,000 start-up grant from the Aetna Foundation; a desk in CRLA’s old offices at 6th and Harrison Streets; a matching grant from Lois Carson and Community Action Partnership; and we were off and running. Early on, we put together a development team that included Wm. C. Buster Inc. Construction and Architect Kenneth Darling & Associates. Four years later we opened our first homes, Pueblo Nuevo Apartments in Coachella, funded by the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) and the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The need was obvious. More than 800 families filled out applications hoping to move into those fifty apartments. They were young families, the average age of the heads of household was 26.5 years, and their average annual income was $7,650. Yet they worked long, hard hours in the fields under our unforgiving sun and sheltered themselves in shacks, garages and cartonlandias scattered throughout the agricultural areas of the east valley. They were industrious families with dreams of a better life for themselves and their children. The success of those dreams is evidenced in the scores of brilliant students who have earned CVHC scholarships, have gone off to great universities, and are now making a difference in their communities. In those early days, there was an abundance of energy, an endless need for better housing and never enough money. Sylvia Montenegro will tell you about the Board Meetings where members chipped in to pay for postage. And now 25 years later, we can look back with pride at the many, many families living the American (and Universal) Dream. Boiled down, what CVHC does is help low-income families make it to the middle class. Certainly not a revolutionary thing, but it sure does feel good to see families move into the new homes they’ve built after a year of working day and night. Years later, those houses and neighborhoods still reflect their owner’s pride through impeccable maintenance, upgrades and plain old good-neighborliness. Is there a secret formula to CVHC’s success? No, it’s the simple things: committed board oversight, exemplary staff, having the right people in the right places, and building strong relationships. It has taken us 25 years to be an overnight success. And we didn’t do it by ourselves. It took a big team: the people mentioned above, certainly. But we couldn’t have done it without strong support from Riverside County, especially Supervisor Roy Wilson and the Economic Development Agency. Nor would there be a CVHC without the backing of the many cities of the Coachella Valley and beyond. A major strength has been the faith and support, and especially the money, that some of the most successful and innovative financial institutions in the nation have provided us. As evidenced by our sponsor and partners list, their support is on going. On the development side we selected outstanding contractors, architects and engineers to plan and build our many award-winning developments. And their continued support also is reflected on our sponsors and partners lists. So, these 25 years have been a great ride. We’ve a lot to be proud of. But we also know that while we’ve helped many families, many others still live in substandard conditions. Resistance to housing “those people” still continues. Young people and low income workers are still unable to afford even a starter home. The current mortgage crisis will make things worse before they get better. While we wish we could wave a wand to make these problems go away, we do believe that CVHC is positioned to forge ahead to act on behalf of those in need. CVHC will continue to expand its mission while maintaining its high quality for a long time to come. There will be many more project openings, families moving into homes, high school grads going off to great universities, and other celebratory moments before the 50th Anniversary. I hope to see you there! John Mealey

    ©2007 Coachella Valley Housing Coalition
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