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Low-income housing in San Miguel vandalized, tools stolen - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Low-income housing in San Miguel vandalized, tools stolen

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A low-income housing development in San Miguel that was vandalized last spring has been hit once again.  

Peoples' Self Help Housing Projects has eight complete homes in the development with 16 more under construction.  Homeowners were looking forward to learning their move in dates, but now that timeline has been pushed back and their excitement tempered by vandals.

"There were five homes that were broken into by drilling through the windows and doors to open them," explained Sheryl Flores, Vice President of Home Ownership. 

Project managers and homeowners of the project are on high alert.  The vandals broke into two homes Wednesday night, leaving doors and windows open.  Thursday night, thieves drilled through more doors and windows, eventually stealing a large saw and an air compressor.  

Flores said, "It just seems to be people looking for something of value to steal and, frankly, there isn't much here so I'd hope they go elsewhere."

The stolen equipment will run the homeowners around $500 to replace, but the most expensive damage will come with potential wait times they may now face while new doors and windows are ordered.  

"If we have to wait for windows it may be several weeks until we can get replacement parts," Flores said.

Last year, thieves broke into storage sheds on the build site as well as partially-built, empty homes.  One man was arrested but let go due to lack of evidence.

A report was made again Thursday morning but no arrests have been made.  Flores said last year, homeowners stayed overnight in the partially finished homes or in campers outside of the homes to ward off thieves and vandals.

People's Self-Help Homes is funded through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.  With a tight budget to work with, Flores says security measures like adding extra lights and cameras or hiring foot patrols isn't feasible.  

"If we start increasing the budget to add things like security at night, these added things, many people are going to be priced out of affording a home and that's not what we want," she said.

59 other lots along the Salinas River have yet to begin the building process.  While Flores says the program may fence the area off, there is concern thieves and vandals may cut through the barbwire fence lining the river bank.

The eight families that have already moved in and the 16 others still working on their homes will meet tomorrow with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office to discuss a neighborhood watch program. 

If you have any information regarding this crime, you are encouraged to call the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office at 805-549-7876.

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