1990: Building on the U.S.-Mexico border

The San Diego-Tijuana affiliate was founded in late 1987 by an ambitious group of friends who decided early on to invite the Carters to San Diego and Tijuana for the annual work project.

The truth was the affiliate had built fewer than 25 houses in Tijuana and none in San Diego. We hoped that by hosting the Carter Project, we might get enough attention to give building in San Diego the impetus we needed.

Approximately 3,000 volunteers from all over the country and world — including the Carters — were housed in a huge tent city in Tijuana, next to the construction site. An additional 1,500 or so local volunteers contributed to construction, primarily in San Diego.

Even though there were many complexities in this cross-border blitz build — different languages, different cultures, meals, field showers, etc. — we were able to move 107 families into new homes by the end of the week. At the end, we had a huge, bi-national celebration in the city park of Tijuana.

This project did indeed result in major local, regional, national and even global media attention and gave the local affiliate tremendous momentum on both sides of the border.

In the decade following the project, the affiliate was able to complete about 250 additional homes along the border in Baja California, Mexico, and about 40 homes in San Diego. The affiliate has since divided, and San Diego Habitat has completed nearly 190 new and rehabilitated homes in the San Diego County to date.

— San Diego Habitat cofounders Dennis and Georgia Briscoe