The first small hometown in the San Gabriel Valley opens

BALDWIN PARK, California – A group of Baldwin Park residents are at home for vacation thanks to their first small hometown village in the San Gabriel Valley.

Joe Quijas is one of 25 homeless people who moved into his truck after more than eight years.

What you need to know

  • A group of Baldwin Park residents are at home for the holidays thanks to the San Gabriel Valley’s first small village led by the Mayor and the City of Baldwin Park
  • Joe Quijas is one of 25 homeless people who moved into his truck after more than eight years
  • The tiny home village is the brainchild of Mayor Emmanuel Estrada, who thought about how to help the estimated 500 homeless in his city
  • The idea is to make these residents self-sufficient with permanent housing within three months

When the eyes are the windows to his soul, Quijas’ is full of gratitude. Emotion overwhelms him when he reaches the first place he has owned in almost a decade.

“I finally have a break here, you know? I was without an apartment for a long time, so I thank God it was my turn, ”Quijas explained.

The Baldwin Park native said he had filed one application after another for housing benefit but was never selected and was no longer physically able to drive trucks or work on the construction that once rented him and his three Children paid.

“I’ve gotten old!” Quijas laughed. “At work I had the hammer on one side and I turned around and I had the apron on the other side.”

As a single father, he went out of his way to raise three boys who are now adults and have families of their own, whom Quijas said he couldn’t imagine bothering them. But he had no way of spending his nights in his truck and spending his days as a volunteer at the senior citizen center. Until a woman there recommended that you try your luck again because the city of Baldwin Park opened the Esperanza Villa.

The 25 tiny home project was the brainchild of Mayor Emmanuel Estrada, who said it was surreal to see how quickly it all came together.

“Homelessness is something that I care deeply about, especially because I understand how vulnerable we are,” said Estrada. “There is no better year to understand this than a year after the pandemic, when we realized that there are many external factors that play a role in our lives.”

Before Estrada became Baldwin Park’s youngest mayor last year, he spent most of his time helping the homeless on Skid Row. He started thinking of ways to help the estimated 500 homeless people in his city and worked with numerous organizations to build heated tiny houses with air conditioning, showers, laundry, three meals, professional training, and even mental health services.

These residents should become self-sufficient with their permanent home within three months. It’s an opportunity Quijas called “God given” while reading his Bible, the only thing he has to keep him going.

“It seems to help me solve any problems I have,” he said.

While it’s not a fancy turkey or a filling, Quijas said he was so grateful for this Thanksgiving as he ate his tuna salad sandwich for lunch.

“What more can a person ask?” he said.

This pilot program was funded by grants from the San Gabriel Valley Regional Housing Trust and the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments. Tiny houses cost about $ 1.3 million to build and operate.

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