500 homes have now had their leaky roofs repaired by the city, in one of the most innovative housing preservation programs in the country, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Councilman Roberto Trevino, an architect who came up with the idea of the 'Under One Roof' program, which provides help with roof repairs to low income people, seniors, the disabled, and veterans, was on hand to help install shingles on the 500th home, on Henry St. near Woodlawn Lake Park.
He pointed out that many areas around the small home being repaired are vacant lots.
"I will tell you that I suspect that a lot of these lots had homes at one point," he said. "Homes that had to be demolished because they deteriorated, maybe it started with a leaky roof."
Trevino says at a time when rising housing costs and a shortage of affordable housing is listed as one of the most significant problems facing San Antonio residents, preserving existing affordable housing is far more efficient than building it new.
"We should look at housing like we look at infrastructure," he said. "Especially existing housing. Existing housing is the most affordable housing that we have in our city, so we should protect it."
In addition to helping prevent the people who live in the homes from becoming homeless, Trevino says the new shingles that are applied to the homes during the process are 'high reflecance roof' products, which reflect much of the summer sunlight. He says it results in far lower utility bills for the homeowners, and helps save energy.
He says some homes have seen savings of $1200 a year, due to retrofitting of the roof.
"A lot of people who are living on the fringe, they have trouble buying medicine for themselves, they have no money for simple necessities, let alone for roof repair."
He says many of the older homes which have had to be abandoned in recent years had problems which started with a leaky roof. As an architect, he says a home is only as strong as its roof.
Trevino says he has receive inquiries from other cities, and says it would be nice if the 'under one roof' program spreads nationwide.