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Casas del Sol residents protest Housing Authority's ‘years of discrimination'

March 20, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

Dateline: Calexico

Men, women and children from housing projects throughout Calexico came together at a Casas del Sol home Monday to protest "years of discrimination" by the Housing Authority.

At a City Council meeting tonight, the council will decide whether to replace one or more members of the Housing Authority board, replace the entire board or take no action, according to City Manager Rich Inman.

Standing in front of homemade signs, the protesting residents said they support removal of board members who back Lupita Rios, executive director of the Calexico Housing Authority.


Rios is an employee of the Housing Authority board. The board is appointed by the City Council.

Residents hope a board with new members will fire Rios and hire a new executive director.

However, the protesters on Monday said they fear the council will do what it has done in previous meetings — nothing.

"We show up to the meetings and nothing happens," said authority resident Inelda Hueso.

"We don't get any response to our complaints. We leave our families or our jobs to be there and nothing gets done," Hueso said.

Lack of response to their complaints was the recurring theme of the protesters Monday.

They blame Rios for ignoring and taking for granted the more than 1,500 residents of the Calexico Housing Authority.

Rios said Friday the favorable financial audits of the Housing Authority under her watch and her 15 years of service to low-income families are proof she has done her job well and is devoted to it.

Casas del Sol resident Alicia Arreola disagrees.

As she held her 11-month-old son, Fabian, in her arms, Arreola railed against Rios and authority board chairman John Romo.

"All they tell us — lies," she said. "And we're tired of it."

She said Rios mishandled the federal program allowing Casas families to buy their homes.

Arreola said her mother has waited for years to buy her home but hasn't been able to do so because of Rios' mishandling of it.

The eight years it has taken to implement a plan to sell the Casas homes was a result of federal red tape and changing regulations, according to Rios.

Regarding Romo, Arreola repeated what others at the protest said, "Romo used to be on our side and then he changed. He has visited Calexico Gardens but nothing has happened.

"People want to see results," she said.

Romo acknowledges the residents who protested and called for his removal Monday are the same residents who pressured Mayor Javier Alatorre to nominate him as chairman.

Romo said Friday he doesn't understand why his former friends and supporters have turned on him. He said he is hurt by their accusations.

Tony Ramirez, president of the Casas del Sol Resident Management Corp., said Romo's days as chairman are numbered, but he doesn't think Alatorre will make any decision that will harm Rios.

"I have a lot of evidence and proof how we have been wronged — I have too much evidence," Ramirez said. "But Alatorre won't kick Lupe Rios out."

Ramirez said it is unlikely Alatorre will make a bold move so late in his term.

He thinks that everything will be left for incoming mayor Victor Carrillo to settle.

Alatorre said Monday he will support the vote of the council.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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