#SaveMiguelsHome: The Work Begins

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#SaveMiguelsHome cleanup party. Photo by Page Graham.

Many hands make light work. This may be an overused phrase, but when a community comes together to help out one of its own, it’s an amazing thing to behold.

Saturday morning marked the start of work at the home of Miguel and Guadalupe Calzada. The goal was simple – get all of the stuff out of the house. Once this is done, tradespeople will perform inspections, develop plans, and estimate costs for materials. What’s the rush? The Calzada’s home is on the City’s list for demolition, classified as uninhabitable.

The Calzadas have lived in the 100-year-old Victorian house in Beacon Hill for 50 years. Due to medical bills and chores that started piling up after Miguel’s heart attack, things started to slip at home.

Read more: Save Miguel’s Home: The Human Face of Gentrification

Dozens of people showed up, gloves in hand, ready to help in any way they could.

Many politicians and community activists were also on hand to show their support, including former District 1 Councilmember María Berriozábal, state Senator (and candidate for mayor) Leticia Van de Putte, state Rep. District 123 candidate Roger Gary, and newly-appointed District 1 Councilmember Roberto Treviño. Even an Uber driver showed up to shuttle volunteers from the parking lot to the work site.

The day’s activities started with a prayer led by former Beacon Hill Presbyterian Church Pastor Tom Heger. The recurring theme centered on the concept of community coming together to support one of its own. According to organizer Bob Comeaux, the fundraising goal is already one-quarter of the way along.

#SaveMiguelsHome cleanup party. Photo by Page Graham.

Leticia Van de Putte speaks at the #SaveMiguelsHome cleanup party. Photo by Page Graham.

Everyone was unequivocally supportive of seeing the project through. One can only hope this groundswell of political support leads to improvements in the way the City handles demolitions, which is obviously currently lacking.

Volunteers put everything in boxes and placed it on a trailer in the backyard. Whatever didn’t fit went into a pile in the backyard. Comeaux joked that Miguel should perhaps hold a fundraising yard sale. There were more than a few interesting tidbits. Though nothing was of great value, it was the sort of thing that people enjoy putting in their personal collections of eclectic items.

All were focused on accomplishing their tasks, and set to it with fervor. It was all done within a couple of hours. By 1:30 p.m., Miguel and Bob were strapping down the load on the trailer, ready to move it to an offsite storage unit.

#SaveMiguelsHome cleanup party. Photo by Page Graham.

#SaveMiguelsHome cleanup party. Photo by Page Graham.

It’s remarkable how quickly a community can come together to help out when made aware of the plight of its neighbors. In this age of social media and so-called “connectivity,” it seems there are those who fall into the shadows – especially those who are not plugged into our brave new world of tweets and Internet feeds.

Yes, perhaps Miguel did procrastinate. Ultimately he found himself in a situation from which he couldn’t extricate himself. That does not deserve automatic scorn from anyone. Our neighbors deserve our compassion, and one day, we might find ourselves in a similar situation.

If you can help out, either through donations or by offering your skills, please contact Comeaux at 210-326-2655, or email him at bobtheunionguy@aol.com.

*Featured/top image: #SaveMiguelsHome cleanup party. Photo by Page Graham.

 Related Stories:

Save Miguel’s Home: The Human Face of Gentrification

Mayor Taylor Takes Helm of Gentrification Task Force

Task Force: Raise the People, Not the Rent

Don’t Call it the Gentrification Task Force

Urban Housing Stock Concern of Gentrification Panel

4 thoughts on “#SaveMiguelsHome: The Work Begins

  1. I saw this suggestion in a comment on a previous story, but a GoFundMe campaign (or something simpler, like ChipIn – just a way of collecting money via Paypal) would make it much easier for people to donate, and for word of the fundraising campaign word. You lose a small percentage in fees, but it’s worth it for the ease of use and share-ability. E.g., I pledged (or promised to pledge) an amount via email, but I have no idea how to follow through and get the money submitted. It may be that you will be able to secure the funding needed from larger donations than the small one I pledged, but grassroots money-raising can do big things when people are inspired.

    If that’s something I can volunteer to help with, please reach out to me – I’m no GoFundMe guru, but I could easily set up a simple page using the photography and info from the flyer.

  2. Kim is absolutely right. Most people have PayPal Accounts now and it makes donating much easier. I can also show you how to do it.

  3. I am glad to see people coming together to help this gentleman salvage his home because I do believe we each need a place to rest our heads, not to mention the house has some great architecture. After all, that is what community is supposed to look like. But I think it’s important to point out a couple things about this situation:

    As the author alluded to, this home has been in poor condition for a long time. Neighbors did not come along at the outset to help the Calzadas; in fact, it was likely the neighbors who had been calling to report them. If it had not been for those code officers making the demolition order, the Calzadas would have continued to live under those conditions indefinitely.

    Quote: “One can only hope this groundswell of political support leads to improvements in the way the City handles demolitions, which is obviously currently lacking.”

    Political support for any project usually only comes around when there’s something for them to gain from it. This definitely seems to be the case here, with mayoral voting season coming upon us. Beyond that, what does the author mean that the demolition process is “obviously” lacking, anyway? Is it lacking because they didn’t just cut the man a check for 50K to fix his house? What exactly is the suggestion for fixing up all the violations where it is ultimately the homeowners’ responsibility to make sure they keep their home in some sort of decent condition? I mean, if you’re unlucky enough to live out in some HOA, they’re not unwilling to put a lien on your house for simply failing to cut your grass to an appropriate length. Where is that news coverage? Where is the outpouring of support to fix that system and save their homes?

    The last point I’ll make is that, in response to the original article, the Calzadas are NOT the “face of gentrification.” They are a victim of unfortunate circumstances and mounting home maintenance costs, but they are not victims of gentrification. Again, I support communities coming together to “love thy neighbor,” but let’s not confuse one with the other. Furthermore, calling Beacon Hill a “hotbed” for house flippers and developers is an overstatement at best. In fact, we do a disservice to our neighborhoods when we use language like this because it proposes that reinvestment is a zero-sum game. In the media, either we’re gentrifying a neighborhood or we’re letting it rot–there seems to be no welcome in between. Then, when someone comes in and builds one house or a fourplex, suddenly the existing residents are at risk? Really? In your story about the house sitter being approached with an offer, do you honestly believe the man making the offer simply became irate because he was told the house wasn’t for sale? There’s clearly more to the story than that.

    At the end of the day we can see that Graham’s goal is to get people talking about this story…and it’s working. But when you only paint the part of the picture you think people want to see and leave the rest out, you mislead people into believing that there is an antagonist in all of this that must be blamed. If we have to resort to scapegoating in order to rally the troops to help families like the Calzadas, we’re in much bigger trouble than their house is.

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