A couple who have lived in an unheated, unimproved garage with no bathroom in Cloverdale for nearly five years are set to move into an apartment in March.
Both, named Alba and Aquino, have two beds, one for sleeping and one for stacking clothes, and plastic chairs for sitting on. Their landlord didn’t allow them to bring a couch.
Alba, who is a nearly blind former farm worker, injured herself picking fruit in Merced. She and her friend, Aquino, who works in area vineyards, were featured in a Press Democrat article about substandard housing and the lack of affordable housing in Sonoma County last November.
Their only cooking equipment is small barbecues which they must use outside. They had bathroom privileges in the house, but the landlord recently told them they could no longer use the toilet. They therefore have to go to gas stations or grocery stores to use their facilities.
They are moving into their new apartment at the affordable 32-unit Cloverdale Family Apartments complex on Healdsburg Avenue with the help of Corazón Healdsburg, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping low-income Latinos in the upstate county. of Sonoma. The apartments only house farm workers and are around eight years old.
Ezekiel Guzman has been helping the couple for some time, bringing them groceries paid for by a group he leads, Latinos Unidos del Condado and Corozón Healdsburg, and working to find them new accommodation. He uses his van and the help of volunteers—high school students from the apartments—to move them a few blocks to their new home.
Alba and Aquino are thrilled to be able to say goodbye to the garage, Guzman said.
“Can you imagine? They are delighted,” he added. “Housing is the basis of good health.
The couple are in need of furniture and other donated items, but have already received a new microwave, coffee maker, toaster and blender from a Bay Area organization called “Direct Action for Farmworkers”.
A woman who does not want to be identified read about the couple’s fate last fall and couldn’t stop thinking about them. She has now offered to pay for ‘towels, sheets and other items to their liking’ after they move in around the middle of the month.
At this point, the couple could use a small dining table with two or four chairs, a couch and two dressers, said Guzman, who will transfer donations to the apartment complex’s community room. He said they were looking online for free items.
The workers will carry out minor repairs and paint the apartment next week in preparation for the big move. Meanwhile, the couple is packing their bags.
“They live half-packed,” Guzman said. “Aquino keeps throwing blessings at us,” he added.
You can reach editor Kathleen Coates at [email protected] or 707-521-5209.