Vietnam veteran from San Antonio living in backyard shed surprised with newly renovated home

Henry Alvarado was forced out of his home after it became unlivable

SAN ANTONIO – Home now has a new meaning for Vietnam veteran Henry Alvarado and his family.

Four years ago, living conditions inside his San Antonio home had become unlivable, forcing Alvarado out of the space and into his backyard shed.

Alvarado’s struggle and lack of a proper place to live was recognized by the City of San Antonio’s Veterans Affairs Department.

A representative contacted the non-profit organization “Adapt a Vet,” which collaborates with community construction partners to serve veterans and make critical home adaptations that increase the quality of life, independence, safety and self-sufficiency of the veteran.

“They said they had a veteran that needed help with their home that was living out of a shed in the backyard,” said Michael Contungo, Co-founder of Adapt a Vet.

One walk through the home and Contungo and his team of volunteers with Mammoth Contracting agreed to take on the project.

“The electrical was all out of compliance. The plumbing was all out of compliance. It didn’t have central heat and air and it had window units,” Contungo said. “We took everything out, all the way down to the studs. We put everything back in up to code.”

The project took longer than expected because of the pandemic. After two years of work, the entire home is completely restored from top to bottom. It features a new dining room, which was specifically requested by the family.

During the renovation volunteers also took security into consideration.

“We made this house secure. We even put in six security cameras for him, too,” Contungo said. “Henry has been very emotional through this whole project. He just kept saying, ‘I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.’”

Part of the renovation also focused on Alvarado’s future. The home was made ADA compliant in the event Alvarado ever needs a wheelchair.

To learn more about Adapt a Vet, click here.

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About the Authors

Priscilla Carraman is the producer of the "Know My Neighborhood" series —hyperlocal reporting on different neighborhoods within the KSAT viewing area. Priscilla started at KSAT as a producer trainee in 2017 after graduating from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.

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