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Community meeting leads to a safer home

Posted Sept. 3, 2019

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front of a house
Improvements benefited three generations living in the 1926 wood-frame home.

Daniela Chavez heard the City of Fort Worth was planning improvements in her Southside neighborhood, and the young mother wanted to learn more.

“Back when the city was doing some beautification in Ash Crescent, they had a community meeting at the church,” remembers Chavez. “We decided to go, and there was lots of information.”

At the meeting, Chavez and her mother spoke with the Neighborhood Services Department staff about the Lead-Safe program. Staff explained that homes built before 1978 often have lead-based paint, which can pose serious health hazards, especially for children under the age of 6.

“We have an older house and it had some chipping paint, so I thought it could have lead,” Chavez said. “I was concerned because the kids play with their little cars in the dirt where paint had flaked off the house.”

Program offers free help

Chavez said city staff encouraged her to apply for the Lead-Safe program, which helps eligible residents with free home inspections and services that address lead-based paint hazards.

“The application was pretty easy,” Chavez said. “If we had any questions, they would help and guide us,” Chavez said of city staff.

Chavez gathered family documents such as pay stubs, utility bills and proof of home ownership, and completed the application right away. “We thought it would take a while for work to begin, but it was only a month or so,” she said.

Testing for lead-based paint

The first step was a risk assessment. An inspector tested walls, floors, window sills — every painted surface inside and outside the Chavez home. At the same time, Neighborhood Services technicians performed a health and safety inspection.

The findings of those inspections included deteriorating lead-based paint on the home’s exterior and front porch as well as a faulty heater, broken steps with no handrail and other safety concerns.

Neighborhood Services hired a Lead-Safe Certified company to paint the Chavez home. “They can’t remove all the lead-based paint,” explained city technician Mike Chesshir. “But by wet-scraping, priming and painting over it, the lead hazard is reduced.”

“And it’s beautiful,” Chavez said. “You can really tell the difference.”

Neighborhood Services coordinates other grant-based programs for the city, so staff helped the Chavez family apply for additional assistance, including fixing broken steps and installing central heat and air conditioning.

“Oh my god,” Chavez exclaimed. “The air conditioner has made a big difference during the hot summer. We’re really, really grateful.”

The improvements benefit three generations living in the 1926 wood-frame home: Chavez, her sister, each of their two children and Chavez’s parents, who’ve owned the house for more than 30 years.

Get information, get help

And it all started with a community meeting.

“When you see that the city is holding a meeting in your neighborhood, you should go and take advantage,” Chavez said. “Before that meeting, we didn’t even know the help was available.”

“I would encourage people to apply,” Chavez added. “It’s definitely worth it!”

Upcoming community workshops

Residents can learn more about the Lead Safe program at two community workshops to be held at Northside Community Center, 1100 N.W. 18th St:

  • Sept. 19, 6:30- 8 p.m. (Meeting will be conducted in Spanish.)
  • Sept. 21, 9:30-11 a.m.

Learn more about the Lead-Safe program.

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