Pima County opened the Housing Center at 801 W. Congress St. a year ago to help residents rent, buy, improve and hold onto their homes.
The landscaping project is another step in the process of making “El Banco,” the former bank building, more energy- and water-efficient. “One of the Housing Center’s missions is to educate Pima County residents about how they can conserve resources and reduce expenses at their homes,” said Housing Program Manager Betty Villegas.
Landscape designer Jessie Byrd of Desert Green Design, who worked with Pima County on the Historic Courthouse’s landscape renovation last year and is the lead designer for the County’s Prickly Park at 3500 W. River Road, designed the landscaping.
“Her expertise in landscape and conservation design, and arid-land vegetation, is helping to integrate native plants in urban institutional landscape and parks, a key component and extension of the award-winning Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan,” said Rafael Payan, Director of the Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department, which also worked on the project.
The Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society, which is partnering with the County on Prickly Park, gave the Housing Center an education grant to purchase 23 rescued barrel cactus for the project. Other native plants incorporated into the project include ironwood, palo verde and mesquite trees, yellow bells from the Pima County Native Plant Nursery, and many species of cactus and succulents, including saguaros, ocotillos, agaves, prickly pears, organ pipes and sotols.
“We hope to use these examples to entice the community to use native Sonoran desert plants that are both beautiful and regionally adapted to our desert climate for commercial, industrial and residential landscape projects,” Ms. Byrd said.
A crew from Desert Survivors, a nonprofit human services agency that provides employment for adults with disabilities at its plant nursery at 1020 W. Starr Pass, and a Pima County Jail inmate crew also worked on the project.
“The Pima County Sheriff’s Department was happy to provide help to this worthwhile project in the form of an inmate work crew,” said Lt. Joshua Arnold. “El Banco is one of many locations throughout Pima County where inmate work crews have been utilized for beautification purposes. The Sheriff’s Department is proud to be a part of this project and will continue to extend a helping hand in efforts to improve our community.”
The Pima County Housing Center and its partners:
- Provide resources, information, counseling, classes, computers, and workshops to help first-time homebuyers and other Pima County residents purchase, repair and make their homes more energy efficient; find affordable rentals; improve their credit; and save and manage their money.
- Help homeowners with mortgage modification and foreclosure prevention or recovery.
- Assist individuals and families who have been victims of fraud and rescue scams.
- Help individuals obtain emergency rent, mortgage and utility assistance.
Call the Housing Center at 624-2947 or stop by between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.