Tex Appeal | Winter 2020

Page 8

NEIGHBORS

Zoë’s Wings gives East Temple residents

help with home repairs By FRED AFFLERBACH | Photos by BECKY STINEHOUR and contributed

K

a-Pow! In early 2019, the electrical transformer outside Lila and Hurley Jackson’s East Temple home exploded and their roof caught fire. Although firefighters extinguished the blaze, the Jackson’s home where they lived for more than 30 years was left with a leaky roof and soggy walls. And because her husband, a retired truck driver, is battling cancer, Lila kept busy emptying buckets of water when it rained. Then a knock at the door and a woman with wings, Zoë’s Wings Foundation, Inc., stepped into help.

8 WINTER 2020 | TEX APPEAL

Zoe Grant founded the nonprofit, Zoë’s Wings, in Temple almost two years ago because she recognized that many homes on the east side were suffering the ravages of time. Working with a list of homeowners seeking repairs provided by the city, Grant began interviewing people such as Lila Jackson to see what she could do to help. She found folks living in homes with an array of issues: leaky pipes and roofs, all sorts of electrical problems, an entire room that had become detached from the house, no A/C, no hot water, or no water at all. At least one homeowner coped by buying bottled water and taking showers at a neighbor’s home. Some residents simply moved out, leaving vacant homes to suffer further neglect. Services provided by Zoë’s Wings are free, but candidates for relief must own their own home and be current on property taxes. Grant says many homeowners are locked into mortgage payments with high interest rates because they have little or bad credit, which leaves them no money for repairs and maintenance. Thus, the cycle of neighborhoods going downhill perpetuates. Although Grant, who works in civil engineering, grew up in Denver, her parents hail from Temple. After they died, she moved here to be near family members. She settled into a comfortable house in North Temple, but recently bought a home on the east side because she said it’s important to embed herself in the community she’s trying to help. “We’re about motivating and encouraging people in our community to do better with their homes. We’re trying to build up the East Side,” Grant said. “The East Side is a little neglected and it’s been that way for years. Demographics haven’t changed. It’s still the low-income people. It’s still the minority people. It still needs help. I want to encourage people, to let them know their dream of owning their own home isn’t gone.” Temple Neighborhood Services Manager Nancy Glover says there is a high need for revitalizing many neighborhoods — 19 percent of the city’s population lives below the poverty line and many reside in East Temple. When people come to the city for resources it can’t provide, Glover often