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A New Home to Grow and Thrive in Dos Palos






A New Home to Grow and Thrive in Dos Palos



Posted on September 24, 2018


 

Ruiz Family in front of New Home in Dos Palos

After almost a year of hard work and dedication, on August 31, Jacob Daniel Cox and Martha Ruiz received the keys to their new Dos Palos home. They were part of the last cohort of 11 families to participate in this area’s new construction project by Self-Help Enterprises. Jacob and Martha (who is pictured left with her kids) began construction of their home back in September 2017 and since then have developed life-long skills that, according to Martha, “now hold a spot in their resume.”

The homes were 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 9 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, or “sweat equity,” are used as the down payment on their new home, reducing costs for a new home they could otherwise not afford. Over the last three years, Self-Help Enterprises has built 43 homes in Dos Palos, a community that is predominantly Hispanic and has an estimated median household income of $36,500.

Martha and Jacob went from living in an unsafe, poorly insulated apartment where their children, ages 3 and 5, often complained about the heat and cold, to living in a safe, energy efficient home they now call their own. Previously, Martha warned her children about how unsafe it was to play outside their apartment. Today, they frequent the neighborhood park and regularly engage with their neighbors. Throughout the several months of construction, families not only build each other’s homes but also have the opportunity to build trust and community—attributes that highly correlate with safe and healthy neighborhoods.

For Martha, the entire process was empowering. It showed her new strengths within herself, her marriage and her family. “Working the long hours, the learning, the training, making the sacrifices, enduring working outside in the elements, going through the tears, Band Aids, and sweat will make you very proud of yourself,” Martha said.

Jacob currently works in a metal fabrication plant in Atwater while Martha stays at home with their children. They are proud first-generation homeowners and say that participating in this program changed their lives. “My family and I have a new sense of stability in our life. Providing a safe, permanent home for our two children to grow and thrive in has given my husband and me peace of mind. Our parents and families are extremely proud of us for building our home and becoming first-generation homeowners.”

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