Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) (center) pops a confetti cannon to celebrate the 500th Under 1 Roof Installation with Veronica R. Soto, Neighborhood and Housing Services Department director, (left) and homeowner Ramona Gutierrez. Credit: Stephanie Marquez / San Antonio Report

Ramona Gutierrez’s house, tucked in the Westside neighborhood of Gardendale, has belonged to her family for three generations. Her father was raised there, and she grew up and raised her own kids there. After so many years of memories, she did not want to move out, even when the roof started to cave in and leak.

But saddled with medical expenses, Gutierrez couldn’t afford to fix the aging roof. On Tuesday, the City of San Antonio stepped in and replaced it at no charge under the Under 1 Roof program.

“It’s a blessing that I get to stay in my home,” Gutierrez said. “I said, ‘My God, I can’t believe it! Thank you, Jesus!’ I feel like crying. When I was raising my children as a single mom and a widow, there wasn’t that help for us. Now that I am older, I am 65, and all these blessings are coming to me.”

Gutierrez’s house marks the 500th roof installation completed since Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) started the Under 1 Roof program in 2015. It began as a pilot program in his district has expanded citywide under the City’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department (NHSD). 

The purpose of the program is to help people remain in their homes rather than having unaffordable repairs force them out. Aging roofs are repaired or replaced with energy-efficient roofs designed to reflect heat and lower energy costs.

Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) assists in installing shingles on the roof of Ramona Gutierrez’s Westside home.

“We are stabilizing our housing infrastructure this way,” Treviño said. “You can see that these are homes that people have lived in for many years. Having a new roof installed is really allowing them to age in place, especially these areas where we know that affordability is so important.”

To qualify for the program, homeowners must be at or below 80 percent of the area median income for families, over 62 years old, disabled, or a veteran. These are the vulnerable populations that Treviño hopes will be able to stay in their homes and help preserve their neighborhoods.

In its latest budget, the City allocated $4.25 million from the general fund and the San Antonio Public Facilities Corporation to help expand the program. It also received a $1 million donation from the Blake, Kimberly, and George Rapier Charitable Trust. More than 430 roofs have been repaired or replaced in 2019, and City officials hope to install 600 roofs by the year’s end.

Treviño and NHSD Director Verónica Soto said they are working with Bexar County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez (Pct. 2) and Judge Nelson Wolff to possibly expand the program into unincorporated areas of the county.

“We are excited that this could go countywide should [Bexar County commissioners] participate as they have indicated they want to,” said NHSD Director Verónica Soto.

Gutierrez’s roof took two days to install, which Soto said was a typical time frame. The roofs not only help repair the homes, but also cool them. A study conducted by the University of Texas at San Antonio’s College of Architecture concluded that the white, reflective roofing material kept homes an average of 6.3 degrees cooler than the previous roofing material. 

Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) shows a detail in the energy-efficient roofing material.

“This is a solution that helps stabilize existing affordable housing and reduce energy consumption,” Treviño said. “We are addressing housing issues and sustainability. This is a program that has demonstrated those benefits, but also the residents can physically feel the benefits.”

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Laura Morales

Laura Morales is a freshman studying journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and a contributor to The Daily Texan.