Yolanda and Juan Baeza are a few months into the construction of their brand new home. “We’ve been building for about four months now and we’ve enjoyed the experience so far,” says Yolanda. The Baeza family belongs to Woodlake 22, a group of 11 families building their homes with our Mutual Self-Help Housing Program.
The homes are built under the mutual self-help method of construction where each family is required to contribute a minimum of 40 hours a week working on all the homes for a period of nine to 12 months. Together with skilled onsite supervision, families pour foundations, frame homes, install electrical wiring, hang doors and windows and even lay tile and paint. These labor hours, known as sweat equity, are used as the down payment on their new home, thereby reducing costs for a new home they could otherwise not afford.
Over the past 50 years, Self-Help Enterprises has built 200 homes (and counting) in Woodlake, a small community that is predominantly Hispanic and has an estimated median household income of $32,375.
Yolanda and Juan currently live in a worn out apartment complex that does not offer healthy living conditions. “I realized that we were paying rent for an apartment that was in poor condition,” said Yolanda. “It’s been hard living like this.” Yolanda and Juan first learn about Self-Help Enterprises through a flyer. After working through the qualification process, the Baeza family began building in August 2019.
Now in their sixties, both Yolanda and Juan use public transportation to get around, sometimes waking up extra early to ensure they get to their work and medical appointments on time.
With humility and hard work, the Baeza family continues to focus their time and energy on fulfilling their time requirements for the program. They’ve enjoyed learning about the construction process and ask questions as needed.
When asked what they look forward to the most:
“Oh I can’t wait to decorate my house. I want to plant some trees that I’ve always dreamed of having like lemon or mandarin orange trees,” smiled Yolanda.
Juan looks forward to “a more tranquil life,” and eagerly awaits for the simple pleasure of calling his home, his!
Together they have four children, and three beautiful grandchildren. “Thanks to this program, my biggest dream of becoming a homeowner is coming true,” says Yolanda. “Most importantly, I am able to show to my children, that even at my age, we can still get ahead and persevere.”