By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun
Billy Ransom, 84, lived in the 1956 house that his grandfather built for $250. The old homestead on East Fourth Avenue had leaks and the foundation has shifted so badly that the refrigerator leaned against one wall.
Now, his home is level and secure with a brick exterior and new appliances and central air and heat thanks to a state grant that allows the City of Corsicana to demolish older houses and build new ones. On Monday, the city council visited eight of the new homes, doing symbolic ribbon cuttings, saying a prayer with the homeowners and posing for photos. The 2010 grants built 11 homes. Three are still under construction.
On the other side of town, Stella Jones has finally moved into her new home, next door to that of Grace Gunnells, her sister. Grace’s house on South 14th Street was one of the first houses built with the state grants, five years earlier. Stella had applied for the program at the same time as her sister, but she’d fallen behind in her taxes so she didn’t get approved until she caught up. They house the city tore down had problems from top to bottom, she said.
“It’s a big difference from where I was,” she said. “To be in here and have space and not have to be afraid I’m going to go through the floors. I had to tiptoe through the house before.”
The houses are typically three bedroom, about 1,066 square feet, with brick exteriors and new appliances, central air and heat, and insulation in the attic space. They cost between $70,000 and $80,000 to build, according to builder Don D’Amico. The Celina-based contractor has been involved with HOME grant projects for about a decade in different cities.
“Your tax money is being put to good use,” he said.
William and Mary Holloway have lived on their corner on West 12th for 24 years, but things got so bad in their old house that they finally had to abandon it two years ago.
“It leaked in all the rooms, and it was cold in the winter because all we had was electric heaters,” Mary explained. “We’re not used to central air and heat.”
Mattie Brown, 86, lived in her house on East Eighth for decades, until the rain falling through the roof had dissolved the walls inside, leaving nothing but bare studs. The flooring had mostly fallen out, so the ground was the floor. During the daytime, she lived there with her grandchildren, for whom she was baby-sitting. At night, she was typically alone in a house lit by one bare light bulb that hung from a wire through the rotting frame that held up the roof.
Now, she has a new brick house, tight and dry, clean and neat, with soft colors on the walls and carpet on the floors. The bathroom is handicapped accessible, and the bedrooms cool despite the summer heat.
Asked what her favorite part of the new house is she replied that “all the parts are good.”
Jesse Reagor recalled that it rained inside her house on North 32nd Street when it rained outside.
“This was a miracle,” she said of her new house. “I’ve been miracles happen to other people. I never thought it would happen to me.”
The city has participated in several HOME grant rounds in the past, and is currently looking to build another 11 homes with the latest grant money. Residents must own their own home, be on a limited budget, and be caught up on all their property taxes.
Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “soundoff” to this article? Email: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com