SAN ANTONIO — Thursday morning, Dina Tellez came to the corner of Hays and Lockhart with a hammer and a home-made cross. Because she lives near the corner where three men were shot Tuesday evening, she wanted to pay her respects.
As she installed her memorial, just one block away, a crowd was gathering for a ceremony in stark contrast to the loss of two young lives. Officials with the San Antonio Housing Authority said they wanted to seize the moment to take a stand for good.
They hosted a First Build Ceremony, marking the start of a program that will bring 12 brand new affordable homes to the troubled area by year’s end.
Father Kevin Faust told the crowd it was “a sign of confidence, a sign of strength, a sign of new beginnings.”
On Hays, Lockhart, Arthur and Lamar, some of the new homes are already under construction for working families, ranging in price from $130,000 to $160,000.
Describing the income potential of new residents, Opportunity Home President David Nisivoccia said “Probably about the $40,000 range, and for typical families with two people working at $20,000 a year, that fits the demographic of this neighborhood.”
Terramark is the builder of 25 homes in two phases. Terramark CEO Charlie Turner said his company is able to offer low prices thanks to partners.
The homes will be sold to qualified home buyers with incomes that do not exceed 120 percent of HUD’s San Antonio area Adjusted Median Income (AMI). “The AMI, the Adjusted Median Income for San Antonio is about $60,000 for a family of four,” Nisivoccia said.
Officials said Opportunity Home donated the land. The City of San Antonio kicked in to cover infrastructure improvements, like water and sewer connections. Wells Fargo awarded a $100,000 grant to Opportunity Home to assist qualified buyers with closing costs.
Many said they hope the new initiative will stop the tide of violence that has swept through the neighborhood. “This will be a really nice opportunity for people to buy a home, have a long term investment, raise their families, see their children’s aspirations, goals and dreams come to fruition and then pass that wealth down to the next generation,” Nisivoccia said.
Officials with Terramark said their deadline to go from dirt to done is November 1. They promise they will make their goal. Turner said 12 families will have new homes for the holidays.
On sponsoring a celebration so soon after a tragedy, Nisivoccia said, “I think it’s appropriate that we’ve having this groundbreaking because this provides hope. This provides an opportunity for people to have a stable home, to make sure they get education, make sure they have support, that they have jobs, that make sure that people don’t stray toward those temptations in life. Home ownership does that.”
More information about the project can be found at www.terramarktx.com.