Farmworker Housing Development Corporation has just finished its latest addition of 40 new homes to the Nuevo Amanecer development, located just north of downtown Woodburn.

These are the latest housing units added to the development in 15 years, bringing the total to 130 well-maintained apartments.

Before Nuevo Amanecer was placed there, it was a Housing & Urban Development senior living community that was abandoned by developers and left in shambles. This nonprofit organization took something broken and fixed it up into a beautiful, one-of-a-kind development. They took lemons and made lemonade. Now, a stranger to the community driving by the area along Highway 214 might assume it's a high-end apartment complex, having no idea it's low-income housing.

Not only does it look nice, but the residents are good neighbors. The families do their part to contribute to the community, through their community garden and citizenship classes, and crime is almost nonexistent.

It's amazing how you can fill one basic need of providing a good home, and all the other pieces fall into place: Crime goes down, literacy goes up and families can get a taste of the American dream.

Unfortunately, despite all its successes, FHDC has not received the credit it is due. Many local people assume the worst about it, looking down on the place as overpopulating our schools and encouraging illegal aliens to encroach on American society.

But the myths surrounding the housing development are just that. It's not attracting people into Woodburn, as it is only available to families who already live in Woodburn.

So what this development is doing is improving the quality of life of Woodburnites, many of whom were living in cars or with relatives in cramped apartments.

With seven different languages spoken -- and a majority of the younger generation speaking predominantly English -- this is a diverse community with a common goal: to simply better the lives of families.

FHDC has singlehandedly raised the bar for low-income housing, and we need to applaud them because, despite persistent criticism, they persevered to do the right thing, helping to improve Woodburn. We hope they continue to expand so more struggling Woodburn families can have a taste of bettering the lives of future generations.

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