An Opportunity to Start Over

By Nicolas Lopez

Ian Harper and Jeremy Evans of Lubbock are known for remodeling South Overton homes. But few people know they are also helping some of Lubbock’s homeless remodel their lives.

Evans said the business partners did not initially set out to help the homeless, but the opportunity arose and the pair decided it was worth the risk.

“We were fairly open, you know,” he said. “We kind of give everybody a chance. If they were willing to work and showed up, we’d give them a shot. We do it to help the guys out. I mean they help us, it’s kind of a symbiotic relationship.”

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Damion Williams and Matthew Pickett working on a home in the South Overton neighborhood of Lubbock. Nicolas Lopez/The Hub@TTU

Damion Williams and Matthew Pickett were homeless for over two years before they found work remodeling homes with Harper and Evans.

After requesting a transfer from a previous employer, Williams fell on hard times when he moved to Lubbock.  Problems with his company’s payroll checks led him to lose his apartment.

Williams, who has extensive experience in remodeling, is grateful for the opportunity Harper and Evans have given him.

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The sounds of talk radio fill the air as Damion Williams looks back at the house to see what needs to be done next. Nicolas Lopez/The Hub@TTU

“We work for them and are paid regularly, and they are also letting us live in an apartment that they already remodeled,” he said.

Williams hopes his current living situation and his new job will be fill in the gaps on his resume, allowing him eventually move on to an apartment of his own and higher-paying, full-time employment in the future.

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Matthew Pickett had struggled for two years looking for work before meeting Harper and Evans. Nicolas Lopez/The Hub@TTU

Pickett said other homeless people have arrangements with Lubbock businesses to do odd jobs and are allowed to sleep in alleys or garages behind the business. He said he feels blessed by his situation.

“We are in an apartment complex that still has a little bit of work on it that needs to be done, but they let us stay here, so we can have a place to stay and be presentable on the job,” he said.

“I think it was a graceful thing to do because they don’t know me from anywhere,” Pickett added.

Both Williams and Pickett say the homeless have a wealth of job skills that are being ignored by possible employers.

“They could fix all these empty houses and buildings and get the homeless off the streets if more companies took a chance on us,” Williams said.

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Pickett and Williams have taken part in remodeling several homes in South Overton. Nicolas Lopez/The Hub@TTU

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