SAN DIEGO -- In what is considered one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in San Diego, City Heights still sees rents of upwards of $2,000, pricing out many families from San Diego altogether -- until now.
“I’m just thankful for this program,” said Yolandina Mito. The mother of six held back tears as she described the section eight, or low-income housing, that has given her family a roof over their head.
“It’s really difficult for us to make it through,” said Houston, Yolandina’s husband.
As the sole provider, he says working a factory job isn’t enough to make ends meet in San Diego.
“If we didn’t have this program, we would have been outside,” Yolandina said.
“Families that are coming to apply for rent are really at the point where they're just almost begging for a place,” said Amar Harrag with Allied Green Realty.
Harrag is an entrepreneur with a heart who, like any good businessman, saw a need.
“Within the neighborhood, there’s already enough demand and there's already enough people that have access to some programs that can help them with their rent and be able to stay here,” he said.
Instead of gentrifying neighborhoods, Harrag fixes up homes and apartments in areas such as National City and Logan Heights. He has worked on forty properties over the last few years.
Harrag strives to keep the ethnic diversity strong and the opportunity great. Many of his tenants are families making less than $30,000 a year. Most families pay between $500 and $800 a month but, combined with the housing voucher, he says "it’s a very comparable rent that you would be renting to any other tenant."
"It works out really well," he said.
Harrag plans to develop more homes around these neighborhoods to keep the people that have grown up there able to afford their homes for many generations to come.