COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | TOM LEMMON

Continued commitment to affordable housing brings Ruby Award honor

At the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, we take pride in our commitment to bettering the communities in which our members live and work in a number of ways.

One way in which Building Trades leaders give back is through the San Diego County Building Trades Council Family Housing Corporation, founded in 1968. The corporation focuses on providing stable, affordable housing to low- and moderate-income workers in the community.

I’m proud to announce that Murtaza Baxamusa, Family Housing Corporation’s director of planning and development, was recently recognized as the 2012 Outstanding Advocate Ruby Award recipient by the San Diego Housing Federation. Baxamusa was honored for his immense contributions of time, energy, leadership and dedication to affordable housing in San Diego.

A well-known figure to city councils, the San Diego Association of Governments and other government bodies, Baxamusa has frequently testified in favor of policies supportive of affordable housing. His work has been integral in opening and maintaining lines of communication between developers and labor, and he has worked tirelessly for the causes of fairness in wages and benefits, fair land use and redevelopment policies, and increasing resources available for affordable housing units.

The Housing Federation, of which Family Housing Corporation is a member, is a nonprofit organization that supports development of affordable housing throughout the San Diego region. It has been an active community partner for more than 20 years. Goals of the organization include developing permanent affordable housing solutions to serve low-income households and encouraging high-quality, environmentally sustainable development. The federation also works to end poverty by encouraging broad community development strategies and improving social ties within the community.

The Family Housing Corporation’s flagship project, the National City Park Apartments, provides a home to more than 700 adults and 1,000 children. They not only live in a stable, secure and affordable environment, but also take advantage of numerous educational and job training programs, including on-site pre-elementary child care and a learning center developed in cooperation with Sweetwater Union High School District’s Alternative Education Department.

One of our most innovative programs is a partnership with the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council. Youth Build is a program for young adults aged 18-24 without a diploma, and it allows those with a GED an opportunity to have a traditional diploma. The program combines classroom instruction with job site training, and provides tools, safety equipment, uniforms and work boots, as well as certification in safety, first aid and CPR. Past Youth Build enrollees have constructed a greenhouse and hydroponic tables for Crawford High School’s Garden Club, while current participants are renovating the Olivewood Community Center, a 100-year-old structure next to the Park Apartments.

Our apartment community allows residents to save money and prepare for homeownership. Since 1986, about half of our former residents leave to become first-time homeowners.

With all of the debt on the Park Apartments retired, Family Housing Corporation is moving forward with plans to expand, and eventually double, the affordable housing stock in the San Diego region. We are also exploring more ways to expand our role in the community and continue to provide opportunities to San Diego’s work force.

We feel lucky to have Baxamusa working with us at the Family Housing Corporation, and our team benefits immensely from being able to work with a professional of his caliber. The board of directors and the staff at Family Housing Corporation would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Baxamusa on a job well-done.


Lemmon is the business manager of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council AFL-CIO overseeing 23 trades’ affiliates. For more information on the Building Trade, visit sdbuildingtrades.com.

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