Community leaders acknowledge there are still major problems that need addressing in the barrios – mainly crime and the shortage of housing – and life is still a struggle for most.
But they say that for the first time they feel things are looking up.
The president, they say, is "working for the people".
"We are all missionaries here," one local activist says in a reference to Mr Chavez's social missions.
Photos by Emma Lynch and text by Nathalie Malinarich