A crew of construction workers took a break underneath the shade of a newly built house last Thursday morning as they put the finishing touches on an ambitious grassroots renewal project that, for the past year and seven months, has been transforming a once run-down residential property on the west side of Nogales into a bold integration of art and housing.
Around them, a cluster of newly built tiny homes sported vividly colored murals on their walls, including one depicting a small village with indigenous people preparing food, and all with an underlying theme of Mexican culture. More artwork could also be seen incorporated onto the trees around the property, as well as the railings that lined the front porches of the homes.
Altogether, a total of seven houses at the site at 163 W. Kino St., as well as two more homes at the top of a nearby hill on First Street, represent the fulfillment of Nogales resident Maria G. Lopez’s vision to bring dignity to her tenants living in one of the city’s lower-income neighborhoods.
“I bought this property because I saw that it was in bad condition, so I told myself, ‘Someday I’ll be able to do something about this, contribute something,’” Lopez said about her purchase approximately seven years ago. “I’m from this border town and it hurts me to see what’s happening here. It’s not fair to just get their money without giving them a dignified place to live.”
The smallest house built as part of the project, shown here, has two bedrooms and one bathroom and rents for $400 a month.