Rosa Garza recently recruited the first Hispanic family from Pahrump to participate in a self-help home-building program.
Instead of putting a down payment on a home, the family will assist in building it. They will attend home-ownership classes and receive a construction loan from a participating bank.
Garza, a credit counselor specialist with Citizens for Affordable Homes Inc., is elated. She said this family didn't think they could be accepted to the program. The Hispanic population in Pahrump, about 63 miles outside of Las Vegas, is starting to build its presence in the small city.
The nonprofit organization has helped families build homes in Pahrump and Dayton, and has secured 1 1/2 acres in east Carson City for self-help townhouses.
"This is the country of opportunity, and these programs are for everybody, regardless of age, background, income, race and disability," Garza said. "Just as long as they can meet the program requirements."
It's this attitude that recently earned Garza the award for Hispanic business woman of the year from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for Northern Nevada.
Garza immigrated to the United States 10 years ago from Mexico City. She was a single mother to two children, now aged 18 and 15. Garza said she had a deep desire to improve herself and gain more knowledge.
She received certification from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Her job is to counsel, educate, and guide consumers on money management.
"The concept of self-sufficiency is very valuable for Hispanics. Most of the time they are at a disadvantage because of language, education or skills. So giving them this opportunity gives them the dream of having their own home."
Garza, 48, is on the Nevada Hispanic Service advisory board. The group focuses on substance abuse in rural areas, affordable housing and youth programs. She also mentors others in professional advancements as part of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
She's looking forward to a new national campaign that will begin in Carson City next month. "Don't Borrow Trouble" will point out unscrupulous lending companies and educate the public on how to avoid them. It will also financially assist those who've taken out a predatory loan.
High-cost loans are disproportionately concentrated in minority communities in many U.S. cities, according to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The community organization found that a disproportionate share of high-cost loans in minority communities are made under a range of abusive or deceptive terms, known as predatory lending.
Garza said one of the most important things about affordable housing is that it can provide equity to Hispanic families. It can cash out for wise investments - such as starting a family business or sending children to a university.
For information on Citizens for Affordable Homes, call 883-710, or visit www.cahinev.org.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.