On the porch of a home once designated a dangerous premise, the City of San Antonio joins Olga Escobedo, the homeowner of the house saved from demolition through the Operation Rebuild Pilot Program which launched in 2022. The pilot program rehabilitates homes in need of critical construction repair.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg, District 5 Councilwoman Teri Castillo, Planning and Community Development Committee Chair Dr. Adriana Rocha-Garcia, Chief Housing Officer Mark Carmona and the Neighborhood and Housing Services Department recognize Ms. Escobedo and her family with gifts and well wishes as she prepares to return to her rehabbed home in June after eight months of rehabilitation.
“Preserving our existing housing stock is a key priority in our City’s housing plan,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “I’m proud that Operation Rebuild accomplishes this goal while focusing on meeting the needs of the homeowner throughout the rehabilitation process.”
Operation Rebuild is a $1 million partnership between the City of San Antonio, including the City Manager’s Office, Neighborhood and Housing Services Department (NHSD), Development Services Department (DSD), Department of Human Services (DHS), Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) and San Antonio Affordable Housing, Inc. (SAAH), the nonprofit component of the Office of Urban Redevelopment San Antonio (OUR SA), to preserve affordable housing for low-income, owner-occupied homes that have an existing demolition order or have been designated dangerous premises.
“SAAH is proud of this initiative to preserve homes for families by addressing the code violations that make homes inhabitable and preserving them,” said Susan Wright, Chair of SAAH. “It is our goal to support our communities by investing in homes and homeowners that need help most.”
The Westside home is the first of 10 homes selected for the pilot program. Homeowners cannot apply for the program, but instead the homes are identified by the City’s Development Services Department and prioritized based on the greatest demonstrated need. At the time of selection, Escobedo’s home had foundational damages, leaks caused by structural shifts, outdated plumbing drains and water line, exposed electrical wiring and a compromised gas line.
Operation Rebuild focuses on making the home safe to live in and construction includes design considerations to prioritize aging in place for the resident by lowering light switches and counter tops, adding a ramp to the front porch, and redesigning and reconstructing the bathrooms and kitchen.
“Operation Rebuild is an incredible example of what San Antonio can accomplish when we prioritize the needs of our working families,” said District 5 Councilwoman Teri Castillo. “The completion of this first home should signal how serious we are about tackling San Antonio’s housing crisis. We owe a major debt of gratitude toward all of our City departments, affordable housing partners and our District 5 residents who sounded the alarm on the rate of demolitions occurring in our community.”
In efforts to prioritize the homeowner’s overall wellness through the duration of rehabilitation, homeowners are supported with a licensed social worker hired by SAAH to provide wrap-around case management services to assist the resident throughout the application, contractual and rehabilitation processes.
The social worker’s direct involvement with the homeowner includes the assessment of family needs, application assistance for access to services/benefits, identifying temporary storage and housing and assisting with relocation. Operation Rebuild provides relocation through the duration of the home rehabilitation project. Community partners are also contacted to assist with housing counseling, homeowner maintenance education and other services.
“Operation Rebuild is unique in our efforts to ensure the homeowner is involved and cared for through the entire process, while preserving a home in our City’s affordable housing stock,” said Mark Carmona, Chief Housing Officer. “The success of this program will be measured by the homeowners’ joy to return to a house that has been repaired and can continue to be a place where memories are created.”
Coordination with the second Operation Rebuild family is ongoing, with rehabilitation of the home set to begin in late May.