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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

One Crisis Away, No Place To Go: Despite Option To Buy Homes, Questions Linger

Allison V. Smith
KERA special contributor
Joe Garcia lives with his mom Lily in an HMK home. He's lived in West Dallas his entire life.

Last week brought news of potential resolution for the West Dallas families KERA’s been following in the series One Crisis Away: No Place To Go.

Questions still swirl around many of those families' homes; like the one Joe Garcia and his 84-year-old mom, Lily live in.

Garcia drives a teal, 1997 Chevy Tahoe. Perched behind the wheel wearing his trademark white straw fedora he gestures across Singleton at new luxury apartments going up. He expects he’ll see much more of that kind of construction in West Dallas over the next few years.

“The way that the economy’s going you know, it’s growing," he says.

A Changing Neighborhood

Garcia's SUV is parked at the office of HMK Ltd—that’s the company that owns Joe’s rental home—and 300 others, mostly in West Dallas.

Some have recently been demolished and some stand vacant. After the city toughened housing standards, the homes didn’t meet code. Tenants were told they had to clear out by June 3. Last Monday a judge pushed the deadline to Oct. 2 and the landlord offered to make the tenants homeowners.

HMK landlord Khraish Khraish says 19 families have signed contracts and he plans to sell many tenants their homes outright—and move others to vacant properties a few streets over. They’ll pay about $575 a month for a 20 year fixed-rate mortgage.

Unsure About What's Ahead

Garcia has a lot of questions about the future of his neighborhood, and his own future. He takes care of his 84-year-old mom Lily. He’s never owned a home and hopes he can buy one of the HMK houses that’s up for sale.

“I mean that would make me feel a lot better, and a lot less stressed, because I know that it’s mine and I can do what I want with it. Just like an owner would like to have," he says.

More Questions

A few blocks south, Pearlie Mae Brown stands in front of her small yellow house. Her great grandson’s toys surround a tree in her yard. It’s a tree they planted years ago. Tears well up as she reminisces.

“He was just crawling around and he would take the water hose every morning and water the tree,” she says.

Pearlie Mae, who turns 81 in June, will miss these memories.

Still-- she isn’t stressed out as she was before---when she had the June 3 move out deadline. Now she has until October to figure things out.

“I feel a little better. That’ll give me time to do everything," she say.

Learn more about both these families here.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.