02-01-07 A matching grant program in Whitesboro provides funds to renovate homes in poor condition for low income families. City officials say the 7 houses in the program were in such bad shape, they've torn them down to build new homes from scratch.
As bulldozers levels a home to the ground, it's good news for Mary Gaskins.
"I can't wait to get into it, to get my old house back," Gaskins said.
After living in the home for 30 years, crews are clearing the lot for a brand new place to call home. It's the sixth home in a matching grant program with the city of Whitesboro and the state.
Residents applied for the program a year ago and are either elderly, low-income, or handicapped. Even on a snowy day, Gaskins knows exactly what she's looking forward to the most.
"Air conditioning," Gaskins said. "That's the best part about it."
Her new home will have central air and heat, and the owners get to make decisions like colors of carpet and other extra needs.
Mary Hunt moved into her new home in October, and has an accessible shower.
"Getting out of the bath tub always scared me," Hunt said. "It's got the most beautiful walk-in shower you'd ever want to see."
Hunt knew her home was in poor condition with a sagging roof and rotting wood.
The new properties are not only good for families, but it helps improve aging neighborhoods.
"We've already got streets, we've already got utilities there and they want to live in that neighborhood and we want them to live in the neighborhood," said D. Welch, mayor of Whitesboro.
Homeowners wait in anticipation as other appreciate what they call the blessing of a new home.
"I'm going to take care of it as best as I can for as long as I live," Hunt said.
Contractors expect Mary Gaskin's home to be finished in about two months. In the meantime, she's living with her daughter a block away, and gets to watch the progress.
Down the street, a contractor is building another home for the program, too. This HOME program, from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, is available to any city in the state.
In our area, Whitesboro and Pilot Point are two towns currently participating.