Home Grants to Repair or Replace Rundown Homes in Driscoll

Old and dilapidated homes in the city of Driscoll are getting a facelift thanks to a grant program being offered to residents there.

Some of the homes are in such bad shape, they will have to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.

On Thursday, Driscoll residents packed City Hall to apply for the program. The town's mayor said it is a great opportunity to not only help residents in need, but it also helps spruce up rundown neighborhoods.

Driscoll Mayor John Aguilar showed several houses that are in need of repairs or even replacement. Some are in such bad condition it's hard to imagine calling them "home," but among cracked windows and broken woodwork, someone lives there.

"It is very important to us. We have a lot of families with low income, in dire need of a new home to live out the remainder of their life comfortably," Aguilar said. "They've never had that opportunity."

That is why the city is working with a grant program, called the HOME Grant Funds, aimed at helping homeowners. With ten spots available, the program had residents stopping by City Hall to turn in their applications.

Among them was Merced Martinez.

"It's sinking, up on piers," Martinez said. "It's been going down and its been setting. My driveway, my porch, some of my windows. Little repairs. If they can be done, why not?"

"Generally it's very low-income Texans who have done all the right things," said Donna Johnson with GrantWorks. "Their taxes are paid, own their homes, invested in the community, but their homes are falling apart around them."

Acceptance into the program is based on an owner's income. Resident Olga Wade knows what it's like to live in a home that is beyond repair. She was awarded a grant three years ago, and now she has a brand new home.

"I had wanted the house leveled," Wade said. "They told me more than likely they wouldn't be able to do that, because of the condition of the house."

In six months, the applicants will be narrowed down, but once a resident is awarded with a new home or repair work, there is a catch. That person will have to live in the home for up to 15 years or the state could ask for them to repay the cost of the improvements.


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