The Coachella Valley Housing Coalition (CVHC) was formed in 1982 when local activists and others came together to tackle the lack of decent housing for farmworkers in California’s Coachella Valley.

When the organization unveiled its first housing development, more than 800 people applied for one of the 50 apartments. Pushed by the need, CVHC has gone on to build more than 4,000 affordable units.

“We started as a farmworker organization, so for the first six or seven years we did nothing but farmworker housing,” says Executive Director John Mealey. “Over the years, we have expanded in both the kind of housing we build and the services we provide.”

CVHC’s portfolio has grown to include housing for people with disabilities and those with HIV/AIDS. At the same time, it hasn’t forgotten its roots.

It recently began construction on 85 units to replace the deteriorated housing at the Fred Young Farm Labor Center, which dates back to the 1930s and was one of the first permanent housing facilities for farmworkers in the state. Two more phases will follow.

The organization also helps build between 65 and 100 single-family homes each year under its award-winning Mutual Self-Help program. Under the program, groups of about 13 families work together to provide about 65 percent of the labor in building each other’s homes. So far, about 1,500 homes have been built.

In 2012, CVHC launched its Back on Track program to purchase and rehab foreclosed homes to create lease-to-own opportunities for families.