Five Jim Wells County residents received new homes in March through a federal grant called the HOME Program. Funds go towards assisting low income homeowners with repairs to bring their homes into compliance with local codes and construction specifications. The grant also replaces homes with a new house when repair costs are greater than the allowable limits for repairs.

JWC has participated in the HOME Program since 2001. According to Donna M. Johnson, associate vice - president of housing programs, to date, in cooperation with the REAl, more than 100 homeowners have been assisted and 55 of those were in JWC.

As per grant requirements, the residents already owned homes and paid their taxes, but their houses were falling apart around them and they didn't have the money to keep them up. The applicant must have a clear and marketable title (may have a mortgage but no contract for deed), and the total income of everyone living in the home must be less than 80 percent of the Area Median Family Income.

The program participants applied for the grant through the County's consultant GrantWorks, and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). Applications were taken in March of 2014 at the Rancho Alegre Community Center. The process involves a large quantity of paperwork and patience, but in the end is well worth the wait.

County Judge Pedro Trevino Jr. had the honor of handing the keys over to the homeowners. Also in attendance was grant consultant Jay Frances and Malouf Construction superintendent Rick Herrell.

“It's great when we have active community partners that enhance the quality of life for the wonderful people of Jim Wells County,” Trevino stated. “This year' recipients are well deserved families in dire need of home assistance that provide a safe and healthier environment. Fore me, it's heartfelt and an honor to present the new homes to the owners. Great things happening in JWC.”

The homes are three bedroom, two bath and are accessible to people with disabilities. There are three foot doorways, a low step shower and grab bars in the bathrooms. They are energy efficient and have all new appliances. Homeowners were provided paint and flooring samples to choose from, and had the opportunity to select their exterior colors. Assistance requires no repayment as long as the homeowner continues to own and occupy their home for up to 15 years.

The County has opted to participate in an ongoing HOME grant. For more information, interested parties can contact Sandy Garcia at Grant Works by calling 512-420-0303 ext. 312 or emailing homeorogram@grantworks.net.