Setting Residents on the Path to Homeownership
headshot of demetrio jimenez

By Demetrio Jimenez |

5 minute read

The current economy has limited homeownership opportunities; Tropicana Properties is laying the groundwork to change that.

Tropicana Properties is an apartment management company located in El Paso, Texas, and specializes in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. Tropicana goes beyond that, though, and provides homebuyer classes for hard-working families to eventually become homeowners. 

Consisting of a predominantly Hispanic community and with the presence of Fort Bliss, the largest U.S. Army base, El Paso is a distinctly diverse city. It is the sixth-largest city in Texas and the 23rd-largest in the nation. Eighteen percent of the city is living under the U.S. Federal Poverty Guideline, which highlights the need for the city’s access to affordable housing. 

Tropicana Properties has experienced rapid growth since its inception in 2002, building 38 properties throughout the county—with plans for more. These properties have faced harsh scrutiny and heavy resistance from local neighborhoods and associations. Such pushback often perpetuates the stigma found around low-income housing and promotes the “Not in My Backyard” (NIMBY) ideology. Tropicana Properties, though, is a strong proponent of “Yes, in My Backyard” (YIMBY), by ensuring we provide access to quality affordable housing in underserved areas. 

We take pride in bringing value not only to our residents but also to the communities surrounding us, as many of the residents in our portfolio have proven to be resilient and hard-working families. Over 90% of Tropicana’s demographic consists of single-parent families that work full-time and demonstrate they are looking to improve their quality of life. 

Our motto is “Let Tropicana Properties put you in a Tropicana Home.” Our Homebuyer Program is offered to all residents and guests free of charge. This consists of providing our residents with access to homebuyer counseling, credit counseling and financial literacy sessions. In just the past three years, Tropicana has produced more than 200 new homebuyers. Many of these families started in low-income housing, but through hard work and access to Tropicana Properties’ homebuyer services, have achieved the “American Dream.” This is an enormous benefit not only to those who accomplish it but to the community as well. 

Tropicana’s one-on-one Homebuyer Workshops focus on providing the tools necessary for our residents to not only become successful future homeowners but also establish smart goals and habits in other aspects of their lives. The program can start with residents attending one of our English as a second language (ESL) courses. Once completed, the basis of the process is our financial literacy course, helping ensure a strong foundation is built around managing finances. 

The next step is homebuyer counseling, where the families are taught the steps necessary in becoming successful homeowners. They are taught everything from principal, insurance and interest to debt-to-income and how to become and stay successful homeowners. The very last step consists of providing the different families access to real estate agents and mortgage loan officers that will guide them in closing on their home. At every step of the way, Tropicana Properties takes measures to ensure it demonstrates that homeownership is achievable and within reach. 

Throughout our portfolio, we have success stories that are perfect examples of this. One such story starts with a single mother of four and who scarcely spoke any English. This mother began attending our Social Services courses. She learned English through our ESL course and attended our financial literacy course. Once she completed this, she received Tropicana’s homebuyer counseling. While using the tools provided to her by Tropicana, she earned a degree through the local community college and decided to pursue her nursing degree. Her hard work paid off, and Tropicana Properties helped her achieve her goal as she went from living in affordable housing to owning her very own home. She pulled her family ahead, and the opportunities presented to her by living at one of our properties contributed to her success. 

Our success stories also include families on the brink of eviction. Just this year, we had a single mother who narrowly met the eligibility requirements for our apartments. During COVID, she fell on hard times and struggled to make rent, living paycheck to paycheck. Our team diligently worked with her, taking steps within our capacity to prevent eviction by setting up payment plans and waiving late fees. Ultimately, we assisted her in applying to receive rental assistance and through that she was able to catch up on her rent. 

When the time came, she was able to renew her lease, and in her second year as a resident, attended our homebuyer counseling courses. In this course, Tropicana Properties led her onto the path of homeownership. Through her hard work, she received a promotion, allowing her to qualify for a home. We are proud to say that in August, she was able to close on her brand-new Tropicana Home! This is an example of how the homebuyer workshops provided by Tropicana Properties open the doors for our residents to go from eviction to eventually owning their own home. 

These are just two of the many success stories we have had from the beginning of our program, and there are countless more. 

Tropicana Properties takes great pride in living by our motto, and incubating homebuyers within our communities. Tropicana Properties invests in the future of our residents and helps build their personal equity. 

Tropicana Properties is proud to serve its residents and give back to the communities in El Paso. 

What does it mean to you to be selected to lead TAA (especially being the first Hispanic President)?

I am both honored and humbled to be leading the second-largest apartment association in the country and represent El Paso in such a notable capacity. It’s not lost on me the responsibility of being the leader of this prestigious organization and feel very fortunate to have the support of the best and the brightest staff, volunteer board members and service providers helping guide TAA.

What led you to join the rental housing industry?

I was hired to apply, administer and offer compliance oversite when our development company Tropicana Building Corporation acquired its first Low-Income Housing Tax Credit development 20 years ago. It was apparent at the time that we also needed to create our own property management company, which I spearheaded. Shortly after, I joined the El Paso Apartment Association and learned from the ground up from some very capable mentors. The apartment industry offers so much that anyone with the ambition can learn and grow into a fruitful career.


Demetrio Jimenez is CEO of Tropicana Properties and President-Elect of the Texas Apartment Association.