Cesar Chavez Foundation announces grand opening of high-quality affordable housing community for homeless veterans & low-income residents in El Monte named for U.S. Army Cpl. ‘Mac’ Ortiz Jr. who died during Korean War in 1950
El Monte, Calif. (June 29, 2022) – The Cesar Chavez Foundation (CCF) held a grand opening celebration on June 29 for a new affordable housing community for homeless veterans and low-income residents in El Monte. The property is named Plaza Ysabel “Mac” Ortiz, in honor of the 19-year-old El Monte native who was killed during the Korean War and whose remains were returned nearly 70 years after he was reported missing in action. The 53 units of housing for homeless veterans and low-income households features onsite social services provided in partnership with Step Up, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit delivering compassionate support to people experiencing serious mental health conditions, and persons who are experiencing chronic homelessness so they can recover, stabilize, and integrate into the community. The property also features a new mural by artist Ignacio Gomez honoring Ysabel “Mac” Ortiz and other community heroes.
The project houses a Si Se Puede Learning Center, Chavez Foundation’s flagship afterschool program for young residents and 6,849 square feet of space for residential services, recreational meeting space, conference and meeting rooms, and staff office space as well as to provide services and resources for homeless veterans.
Ysabel “Mac” Ortiz joined the U.S. Army at age 17. He was serving during the Korean War, assigned to an M-19, small anti-aircraft tank with an exposed cockpit in the 7th Infantry Division when he went missing while in combat in North Korea on Dec. 2, 1950. Barely past his 19th birthday, Cpl. Ortiz’s remains were never recovered. DNA testing confirmed he was among the remains of 55 U.S. service members turned over to the U.S. by North Korea almost 70 years later in 2019. He was brought home, buried in Riverside National Cemetery, and posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.