February 26, 2007
By Flora Roberts and Theresa Schmidt
It was six years ago when Mary, who was 82 at the time, applied for housing re-habilitation through the City of Lake Charles Community Development Division. Then came the hurricane, a FEMA trailer and finally a new home.
In 2005 Hurricane Rita made Mary's sub-standard home even worse. After applying for housing rehabilitation it was decided her home was too deteriorated to be repaired. She was next on the list for reconstruction, but the government program didn't pay contractors as much as private jobs, so the city had never been able to find a contractor for Mary's house.
By December 2005 the blue roof on her house had failed and it was raining inside. There was mold and mildew and Mary felt sure it was making her sick. Then finally, they found a contractor and there was another problem. The apartments they would normally use to house residents getting housing rehab were no longer available due to the hurricane. "They said they could start my house but they had nowhere for me to live. "
So, in January 2006 Mary got a FEMA trailer. "It's so nice and I enjoyed living there, but it's so small."
Then in August 2006, her old, unrepairable house was demolished and slowly but surely work began on her new home to be built with federal housing dollars for low income people.
Now, February 2007, at long last, Mary has moved into her new home. "I'm so thankful that I have this house even though I had to wait six years for it. It's very nice and very comfortable and I'm very thankful for it."
At the age of 83 she knows, "I learned to be patient in all things and that's the way I made it through all these years I've been waiting." And no matter what she tries to think positively. "I just talk to God and he gives me what I need. He supplies my needs, so that's the main way I get by."
She knows there's always something. She must now tackle how to come and go when there's a sea of mud surrounding her new home. City officials say the problem is not covered by her contract. "I still have to be patient about everything. Things usually work out. It just takes time and patience. "
Anyone who wants to help Mary may call the City of Lake Charles Community Development Division at 491-1440. Seventeen homes on the list are to be finished before the city will re-open the housing re-hab application process.
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