Years ago, An Truong and his two sons built their own two-story house from the ground up.
Along the way he helped build three Buddhist temples as well.
Now, the city he calls home, Haltom City, is all but built out. It's a melting pot, too, with the highest percentage of foreign-born residents in Tarrant County, at about 22.1 percent.
Truong, born in Vietnam, chose to live in the area chiefly because the cold of Pennsylvania did not appeal to his family. He joined other Vietnamese in Haltom City, which was a resettlement center for refugees after the Vietnam War. About 25 percent of the city's foreign-born population is Asian, and 70 percent Latin American.
Those immigrants have helped create a diverse city. Truong has also helped by solving crimes as an investigator with the Tarrant County district attorney's gang unit, including, recently, a 2008 Haltom City cold-case murder.
The city's Southeast Asian population, he says, is made up of both newcomers and older people who tend to keep their traditions. For them, he said, "People in Haltom City [have] frustration with law enforcement a lot because maybe the city has no [Asian] law enforcement officer."
Police Chief Keith R. Lane said he has met with members of the Asian community and had not heard any such concerns.
"Our department is extremely fortunate to have someone such as Investigator Truong available -- and willing -- to work with us," he said in an e-mail. "... Haltom City is an extremely diverse community. I believe our department has made tremendous strides over the past two years in building and maintaining the trust of these diverse groups."
Mayor Bill Lanford said the city has an opportunity to welcome Hispanics and other immigrants and "fold them into what we're doing.
"That can be done. It's going to take some real creative willingness and courage," he said.
But the city also has the county's fourth-lowest median household income, $41,183, and 90.4 percent of its housing was built before 2000. Almost a third of the city's housing is more than 50 years old.
While homes are relatively inexpensive, with a median monthly mortgage of $1,143, the city has seen retail leave for richer climes, especially the northern part of the county, the mayor said.
"It's clearly an uphill battle," Lanford said. "... When you run out of room to put new housing on, the way we have in Haltom City ... your ability to take higher tax dollars from those new properties and invest it in the older-infrastructure part of town becomes severely limited."
Darren Barbee, 817-390-7126