For the past six years, Casas por Cristo has been in operation as an intergenerational volunteer program that provides youth mentoring and assists homeless families with young children. Casas por Cristo volunteers help these families by constructing both short-term crisis and permanent affordable housing. The volunteer teams have constructed almost 500 single-family dwellings for needy Mexican families in El Paso County, TX and Juarez, Mexico.
Casas por Cristo is filling a crucial need in the areas they serve. El Paso and Juarez both have a shortage affordable housing units. In 1998, the 3,200 volunteers came to El Paso from 31 states, to build a home for a deserving family. After three days of intense labor, they constructed a dwelling for a family they did not know, never saw again and could not communicate with due to language barriers.
The typical Casas por Cristo group has 18-20 youth and adult sponsors, an excellent example of a hands-on mentoring program with young people learning construction skills and responsibility under adult leadership. Each group operates as a team, providing the opportunity for team-building skills and working together under adverse conditions. The program also has intergenerational teams where three generations – from grandparents to grandchildren – work together to build a home. A unique work team is their annual all-women's team and Casas por Cristo also works with local agencies like Ft. Bliss Protestant Chapel and servicemen.