Families without wills stalling West Side community development

City holding housing fair Saturday to help citizens with wills, titles and home

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A common problem on the city's West Side is stalling community improvement.

Families whose loved ones leave them without wills have no power to improve properties.

Ralph Gomez grew up in his mother's west side home. His brother eventually moved in next door.

"My mom passed away three years ago, my brother just passed away about a year ago and we haven't been able to change the deeds," Gomez said.

His mother's home has been sitting there for three years, his brother's for one. He can't do any work to either until the name on the deed is changed.

"You can't do home equity loans, you can't sell it, you can't rent it," Gomez said.

"We know that one of the main obstacles for people to upgrade their homes is this issue with titles," said District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales.

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Gonzales hears about this all the time, so the city and several partners stepped up to help.

They're holding a housing fair Saturday where experts can offer the community help with wills, titles and home improvement. 

"What's unique about this particular title clearance project is that we're working with UTSA, who will also work with the St. Mary's Law School to help with the title clearance and with wills and helping to probate wills," Gonzales said.

They hope to fully clear some issues on site and also get the ball rolling for homeowners with more complicated cases.

"Hopefully, with this program on Saturday, we'll be able to change the deeds on both properties. This is definitely something that is needed not just in the district but throughout the city," Gomez said.

Like so many others, Gomez is ready to bring life back into the homes he holds so dear.

The housing fair is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mexican American Unity Council (MAUC) off of Buena Vista.

It will also connect homeowners with programs to help them fix up their homes once their deeds are changed.

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