In just six weeks, their current homes, all too expensive to repair up to code, will be torn down and new ones will be constructed under the HOME Grant through the Department of Housing and Urban Development of Housing and Community Affairs.
To qualify, applicants must live in the home, be a good citizen, pay their taxes and be in a low-income bracket.
“These are people who are doing all the right things but just can’t afford to repair their homes,” said Donna Johnson, of Grant Works.
Mary Veselka, Albert and Julie Menchaca, Geronimo Jaramillo, Carl Arnold and Juanita Flores are recipients of the new homes which will be brick, central heat and air conditioned, and all-electric. Unless the weather or other unplanned for events interfere, the families should be in their homes by the end of October.
“I wholeheartedly support this program — it will improve the quality of their lives,” said Mayor George Hernandez. “All these people qualified because they are responsible but needy people. I hope this program and similar programs continue to come down the pike.”
Johnson said the program is near and dear to her heart, especially when it comes to Refugio County, where she still calls home.
“The HOME Program provides funds to assist low income homeowners with repairs to bring their homes into compliance with local codes and construction specifications or to replace homes with a new house when repair costs are greater than the allowable limits for repairs,” said Johnson. “Assistance requires no repayment as long as the homeowner continues to own and occupy the home during the affordability period.”
The affordability period is from five to 15 years and the homes may not be sold during this period. None of the substandard homes in which the recipients are living, have debt or liens, which is another requirement in the program.
Rick Harrell of Conroe with Randy Malouf Builders has already constructed approximately 100 homes.
“We build good homes,” said Harrell, superintendent for the builders. “If I’ve got a crew working at the site, I’ll be right there with them... This is Donna’s county and she’ll be watching us like a hawk.”
Johnson, the daughter of the late Refugio mayor, Price Johnson, said she is elated to see the project near the construction phase.
“Refugio County is my county and these are my people,” she said.