SAN DIEGO — A Hispanic leader with San Diego roots has been honored with a Pioneer Empresaria Award by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Carol Ornelas is a business woman who has been working for the past 30 years to build affordable housing in California.

“I just spent ten days in San Diego and all I had to do was go down to G Street and see what's happening with the homeless population out there.  We need to build more housing,” Ornelas said.

Ornelas grew up in San Diego and moved to Stockton after she found her passion: building affordable housing through her nonprofit company, Visionary Home Builders of California.

“Thirty-five years ago, you did not find women in construction.  But I had a desire to develop communities.  I come from a large family.  My mom taught us to take on whatever you have a passion for, and I have a passion for making sure children in our community have a decent place to live,” she said.

As a leader in the Hispanic community, Ornelas is taking on the problem of homelessness by building multifamily units using federal grant money and other funding sources.

She says nimbyism one of the obstacles to getting low income projects approved.

“I believe what we all need is workforce housing.  So, you have people that may be making minimum wage and the question that you ask yourself is do they deserve good, affordable housing.  The answer should be yes,” Ornelas said.

On Friday, Ornelas will be honored with the Pioneer Empresaria Award at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce convention in Stockton.

She appreciates the recognition and looks forward to helping people find homes.

“I want to know when I leave this earth that I have left something to my community, that I work very, very hard on.  And that is housing the lowest income people and making a difference in their life,” she said.

Ornelas says the nonprofits working on affordable housing in San Diego include the MAAC Project and Community Housing Works.

Some of the projects include health and educational services on site.