The Chicano Federation aids San Diego families in recovering from unprecedented storm damage


In January, many neighbors and familia lost their homes, businesses, vehicles, and belongings due to San Diego’s unprecedented storms. The Chicano Federation experienced the devastation firsthand, as floodwater rose to 4 feet in one of its affordable housing complexes for families; 25 units were destroyed and over 60 residents, as young as 10 days old, were displaced. Many residents’ damaged vehicles prevented parents from going to work and children from attending school; those who work for Lyft or Uber now have their livelihoods at risk without vehicles. Because the Chicano Federation’s priority is keeping these families safe and cared for, they were immediately placed in hotels and received warm meals and basic necessities.

Paco and his family are among the residents supported by the Chicano Federation. Paco’s story began in the Republic of the Congo, enjoying a peaceful upbringing until the outbreak of war. His family sought refuge in Uganda for four years before finding permanent residence in San Diego, moving into the Chicano Federation’s Delta Street Apartments in Southcrest. Paco’s growing family of six has called Delta Street Apartments “home” for 11 years; however, their lives were abruptly disrupted by the recent floods.

Despite this being Paco’s third encounter with catastrophic flooding that requires a fresh start, he considers himself very fortunate. Paco’s mother is his upstairs neighbor and has been cooking warm, nourishing meals for him, his family, and all of the residents affected by January’s storm. Grateful for the Chicano Federation for providing housing stability, Paco’s family is eager to return to Delta Street Apartments as quickly as possible so they can start to rebuild their lives.

Thanks to dedicated volunteers, the Chicano Federation cleaned out the 25 affected units – disposing of furniture, trash, and debris – to start reconstruction. The projected timeline before families can return to their homes is up to three months. During these hard times, supporters have stepped up with donations for lodging, meals, transportation, and basic needs for these individuals and families. Nevertheless, the need for support and compassion persists as Chicano Federation provides residents with culturally responsive, trauma-informed support in navigating insurance damage claims, legal assistance, and other critical resources.

Since 1969, the Chicano Federation of San Diego County has been advancing civil rights, civic participation, and social mobility for historically marginalized communities. The organization serves clients regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, and/or immigration status, prioritizing immigrants, refugees, and low-income, high-potential communities. Because of Chicano Federation’s commitment to social justice, it was recognized as the “2023 Outstanding Organization for Diversity & Inclusion” at San Diego’s 51st annual National Philanthropy Day. Southwest is the official airline of the Chicano Federation, providing ongoing support to individuals and families.


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Esteban Villanueva