ANTHONY, N.M. - Drugs, gangs and crime used to be the norm at the Franklin Vista Apartments in Anthony, N.M.
Now tenants tell ABC-7 they're thankful the property managers have managed to turn it all around.
Asset Manager Blanca Hernandez, 28, said transforming the troubled housing area into a safe place is a 24/7 job, and it hasn't been an easy road.
"At first, it wasn't good. It was very bad. Everybody hated me," Hernandez told ABC-7.
Signs around the low-income housing complex restrict residents from skateboarding and loitering. Security cameras watch residents' every move.
These are just a few of the changes Hernandez implemented in the last few years, sparking a huge change in the atmosphere.
"I didn't do it thinking, 'I'm going to make a difference.' I just started little by little (doing) what was right. If I found someone doing drugs, I would evict. And family by family or problem by problem, eventually it turned out that's what I was doing," Hernandez said.
Hernandez said six years ago, before she became the property manager, the apartments were full of illegal activity.
Now tenants finally feel safe.
"She's been very strict, very firm and she does not permit vandalism or drugs, nothing. So we're very happy with that," tenant Norma Medrano said.
But not all tenants are pleased with the strict rules, especially the 9 p.m. curfew that closes the apartment playground and picnic areas, mandating residents to be inside their apartments.
"On one side, it's good they have all the rules, but on the other hand, we feel a little restricted because they don't give us a little bit more freedom," tenant Beatrice Medrano said.
The owners of the apartments were so pleased with Hernandez's performance that she is now managing a new complex in San Elizario, Texas, that will have all the same rules.
Hernandez was also recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the 2012 Site Manager of the Year, but she said the greatest benefit comes from seeing the change in people's lives.
"I actually have about 30-some letters that tenants make me. And I have them in a binder. That's the biggest award I have. The certificate is just a certificate, but the letters from my tenants, that's the biggest reward," Hernandez said.
Hernandez said these projects are close to her heart because she grew up with two hard-working parents with limited incomes.
She said with each new complex, she is working harder to create a widespread difference throughout the community.