Antonio and Maria Hernandez are self-help homeowners at Villa La Michele Subdivision, also known as Heartland Park, in Orland.

Housing is seen as an issue all over California. 

The Community Housing Improvement Program works to provide affordable housing and related services to low-income households.

“Affordable housing is in great demand and a primary focus at the local, state and national levels,” said Kris Zappettini, interim president and CEO of CHIP, in an email.

CHIP serves seven counties, including Glenn County, but began in Chico 45 years ago as Chico Housing Improvement Program.

“CHIP began as a partnership with Chico State to improve a neighborhood south of campus through a housing rehabilitation program,” said Desiree Gonzalez, communications and fundraising manager for CHIP, in an email.

In Glenn County, CHIP has built 66 units of rental housing, or three housing communities (two of which serve farmworkers), Zappettini said. However, they also offer resident services which include on-site activities such as education, health, community building and recreation for adults and children.

Gonzalez said Umpqua Bank sponsors a weekly math, science and art program for children at the Ranch De Soto apartments in Orland, which is led by a long-time board member, Joy Murphy. There is also financial education for adults and other activities on-site.

CHIP’s motto is “helping people help themselves,” Gonzalez said. 

Through that, there is a Mutual Self-Help housing program that is offered in rural areas where families help to build their own homes and other homes within a construction group of around eight or nine families, said Jill Quezada, director of homeownership at CHIP, in an email.

“The participants’ contributed labor, referred to as ‘sweat equity’ serves as their down payment,” Quezada said.

Along with providing homeownership to low-income families, the program provides opportunities for the participants to gain construction and home maintenance skills and “build communities well before the homes are ready to move into,” she said.

The organization partners with USDA Rural Development to run the program, which provides the financing and CHIP provides the program oversight, including construction of the houses.

Quezada said the first self-help Glenn County homes were completed in 1983 with 29 homes in Hamilton City.

“Since then, we have completed an additional 583 homes in Glenn County, all within the towns of Orland, Hamilton City and Willows,” she said. “Currently, we are gearing up to develop the Benson Estates.”

Benson Estates will include 33 homes across from the Rancho De Soto property in Orland, Quezada said. All homeowners for the new development have been selected.

There were plans to host CHIP’s annual fundraiser, however, due to the Camp Fire in Butte County, it was canceled. 

“Every year that we can continue to provide housing and housing related services to our communities is one to celebrate,” Zappettini said. “The Carr Fire and Camp Fire has heightened the need for affordable housing and that is taking precedent over plans to celebrate our 45th year.”

She said 89 residents at the Paradise Community Village lost their housing due to the fire and CHIP  is setting up a fund to support their recover efforts and are currently accepting donations.

Donations can be made by visiting

“We are both reacting to and learning about this level of disaster and the impact it is having on lives and the community,” Zappettini said. 

She said they are first focusing on the residents, staff and their families who lost their homes but are looking into how to provide vacant units in other communities to those affected by the fire, as well as participating on ways to address housing solutions from emergency, temporary and permanent perspectives.

“Amid chaos and disaster, you always need to be looking for the silver lining,” Zappettini said. “We have been showered with support from other affordable housing agencies, community members and lenders. Their efforts help us to keep our focus on helping people find housing and to develop permanent housing solutions.”

“We are incredibly grateful for all of the people and organizations who have supported us throughout the years, and we look forward to helping more people help themselves in the next 45 years,” Gonzalez said.

To apply for rental housing wait lists or to add oneself to the self-help housing interest list, visit or call 891-6931.

For businesses who would like to sponsor residents services or other programs, contact Gonzalez at

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