The Bataan neighborhood in West Dallas, Texas has long been a vibrant, family-oriented community with a rich Latino heritage. It is dotted with brightly colored, modest homes, fitted with stoops and porches made for conversation.
Rebuilding Together Greater Dallas joined forces with Spectrum Housing Assist in June to kick off a new initiative to help Bataan homeowners stay in their homes in the changing neighborhood.
Life there has started to evolve since the completion of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, which connects West Dallas to downtown, raising economic fears for some families who have called the area home for generations.
“It’s a vibrant part of the city with a rich Hispanic heritage, that is going through changes right now,” said Cara Mendelsohn, Executive Director, Rebuilding Together Greater Dallas. “When we started going out there people didn’t want to talk to us. They were afraid we wanted to buy their homes. We worked hard to gain the trust of the community, and selected homes we knew we could improve, to make a significant difference in the life of these homeowners.”
Keep reading to meet four homeowners from the neighborhood who are proud to call Bataan home. The interviews for this story were conducted in Spanish and translated to English.
Rosalio, A Neighborhood Fixture
Rosalio and his wife have spent 47 years in their home in Bataan, after getting married in 1968 and traveling to West Dallas from Mexico. Rosalio did his own home repairs for many years, but was never able to make the permanent critical renovations that were needed. He said it has been more than 30 years since the home was in such great condition, and thanked Spectrum volunteers.
“I’m really grateful to the volunteers. God bless them,” said Rosalio. “It’s hard to do everything by yourself.”
Sajuan, A Man on a Mission
Sajuan lives in his family home, owned by his grandmother who he calls the “heart of this house.” The house was passed down to his grandmother, by his great-grandmother before her. Sajuan said developers came through in recent months and “wanted people to move.”
He has no plans to leave. “I grew up in this house,” said Sajuan.
He has been on a mission to refurbish the home for his grandmother, and said the volunteers are a blessing to his family: “It means a lot for someone to come do something like this, to take their personal time, and I’m very grateful. We’re very grateful.”
Isidra, Family is Everything
Isidra, a mother of three, is the matriarch of her family. She resides in the home that belonged to her parents in Bataan and said she is seeing her beloved community get older as families move away.
She tried to improve her home – by gluing tiles to the floor and changing the curtains. She is most excited to pass a safe and healthy home on to her children and is also happy to have a new kitchen.
“We all grew up in the house … My parents lived here more than 40 years,” said Isidra. “My dad would be really happy if he was still alive.”
Francisca, Believer of Miracles
Francisca works at a local food store and has raised three children in her home, which she inherited from her parents. Though her daughter suggested selling the home, Francisca says there are too many memories.
“I would have to start over again. And I think I’m too old to start over,” said Francisca. She said the neighborhood is in need of some TLC, and she was incredibly grateful for a helping hand: “I feel so happy.”