Rebuilding Together Partners with Community to Bring a Family Back Home

August 4, 2021
by Mike Schulz, Vice President at Rebuilding Together Sandoval County

Even during a pandemic, Rebuilding Together Sandoval County and community partners worked to return an older man to his home after being forced out of the house for building code violations. 

Our client, Emilio, relies solely on income from social security. He uses this money to support himself and his 92-year-old aunt who he cares for and supports. Emilio’s home--the house he was born in--was originally a two-room adobe structure built in the 1930s. Due to the home’s age, the sanitary sewer, water supply and electrical systems were not up to code. Consequently, the Town of Bernalillo, NM was forced to condemn the home and deny occupancy to Emilio and his aunt, at which point the pair became houseless. 

Rebuilding Together Sandoval County partnered with a local church group and other community volunteers to install a sanitary sewer line and make repairs necessary for occupancy, including kitchen rehabilitation, bathroom modifications, installation of new electrical wiring and fixtures and replacement of drywall and flooring. The community volunteers, including a licensed contractor, provided labor and Rebuilding Together Sandoval County contributed materials and covered the cost of the connection to the sewer main. 

Rebuilding Together Sandoval County also gave the family new kitchen cabinets from our donation center, as well as furnishings, linens and kitchenware to replace items that were sadly stolen from the home while it was vacant. 

No longer houseless, Emilio and his aunt Elizada return to the house where he was born.

The town recently issued a certificate of occupancy and Emilio and his aunt have been able to return home. This project is a testament to the power of community involvement and what can be accomplished when neighbors help neighbors. According to Bonifacio Dimas, who organized the community volunteers, “Rebuilding Together Sandoval County has been a Godsend organization and has enabled the community to act upon this need with its funding which has been the heartbeat of this project.” Emilio’s aunt, Elizada, said she is “very grateful for everyone involved and happy to be back in her home.”