Helping New Homeowners Achieve Clean Energy Goals
For the Valenzuelas, a family of seven renting a two-bedroom townhouse in Hemet, owning a home has always been a dream. Juggling financial hardships and a costly real estate market, the road to becoming a homeowner has been bumpy.
Hoping to help remove some roadblocks, Southern California Edison's parent company, Edison International, has partnered with Habitat for Humanity, sponsoring some of its homeownership programs that offer rehab or new build opportunities to qualified low-income households.
“A Habitat home will be such a blessing to our family because we’ll have more room, and the children will have their own space. We were hoping for a single-story for our daughter because it’s easier for us to navigate with her disabilities,” said Jonathan Valenzuela, a father of five.
The Valenzuelas’ youngest daughter, Sevoni, is 4 years old and has cerebral palsy. In addition to being fully electric, the home has been designed with her needs in mind.
Edison International sponsored the landscaping project on the Valenzuelas’ new home, where SCE volunteers worked with Habitat for Humanity to grade yard areas, mitigate flood risks and add drought-resistant greenery. A bonus is that there's enough space for Sevoni to navigate the yard comfortably.
“We are proud to partner with Habitat for Humanity on projects aligned with our goals of a clean energy future,” said Alejandro Esparza, SCE principal manager for Philanthropy and Community Engagement. “We are happy to be a part of projects like this fully electric home build, equipped with eco-friendly landscaping, while simultaneously assisting in programs that offer our customers affordable housing options.”
During each portion of the work, Habitat homeowners are required to perform sweat equity hours, contributing to the effort it takes to build their new home. Jonathan has exceeded his required 500 hours by so much the organization lost track.
“They have worked hard for this, and now they will have the opportunity to build stability, security and legacy for their family,” said Bonnie Evans, director of Resource Development for Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley. “We believe everyone deserves a place to call home.”
“My family and I are happy, excited and overjoyed to tears. Truly a dream come true,” said Valenzuela's wife, Heather.
Around the same time in Long Beach, the lives of four more families were changing. Edison International partnered with Grid Alternatives to install solar panels on the first four of 10 freshly finished Habitat for Humanity homes.
More than 20 SCE volunteers spent the day helping mount and screw 10 panels to the roofs of each home and shaping conduit-covered wire.
“These systems are set up to offset about 90% of the families’ monthly utility bills, and that’s money that can go to grocery bills or medical bills, things that are far more important,” said Alex Turek, director of strategic development, Grid Alternatives, Los Angeles.
“I feel very overwhelmed and grateful,” said Teri Ferrieri, a Habitat home recipient. “I'm just amazed at the amount of people who are invested and interested in making change happen for our environment.”