Residents rally against HISD in land battle

October 11, 2009 8:40:49 PM PDT
Homeowners are rallying to save their homes in a land battle with HISD. HISD is looking to expand the grounds of Dogan Elementary in northeast Houston, but it would require the district buying up property from homeowners. Now some homeowners are getting the backing of a city councilmember.

Elizabeth Williams, 86, says her home is full of sixty years of memories. She never planned on moving again in her lifetime.

"Then I get a short letter, saying they'll give me 14 days to accept the offer and I said, 'What a short time to talk to me'," she told us.

Williams is one of almost a dozen residents who have been approached by HISD as part of an eminent domain acquisition of property surrounding Dogan elementary for an expansion project.

"I have been so depressed," she said. "It's really a hurt. I raised my children, brought them up."

Residents rallied with city Councilmember Jarvis Johnson Sunday afternoon. They say they are concerned with the way they are being treated.

"I got things that have happened there that are a treasure to me and I hate to give up, but I know if they take this, they'll start with the next section," said resident Ruben Holmes.

Some residents say they are not being offered a fair price and they could never buy another home for that price. Others say the plans for their property have not been made clear.

"So we are asking what is the plan for Dogan elementary and for this particular community, so we may move forward, so that our community will have a better understanding of what's going on," said Johnson.

Just last week, many of these same residents stood in front of HISD's school board hoping to be heard. Many who live near the school are relatives and say it's not just about being pushed out of their house, but these are longtime family homes.

The district says if it purchases the property, it would negotiate a fair price and would give the residents time to vacate. But Williams is hoping she won't have to do that because after 60 years there, no place else would seem like home.

"I really would love to be in my house," she said.

The school board must still take a final vote to exercise eminent domain.

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