The little house in Lockhart, TX, was the whole world to Dorothy Brown for 45 years. She and her husband raised four children in the small two-room home. Cramped together, the family lived through times both good and bad. That little house saw it all.
Time went on, and eventually her children grew up and moved on to begin their own lives in their own homes. And sadly, Mr. Brown passed away. Ms. Brown, now age 77, stayed on but, as is often the case, time began to take its toll on the home.
Living on less than $11,000 a year, Ms. Brown was unable to make the needed repairs her home desperately needed. Her beloved little home, full of wonderful memories, was literally falling apart around her and she had no means to do anything about it.
Lockhart, located about 25 miles southeast of Austin, is a town of about 12,000 residents known to many folks only for its official designation as the “Barbecue Capital of Texas.” And, like many small towns across the state, it has faced the problem of a deteriorating housing stock.
In an effort to address the problem head on, city officials applied to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for HOME Homeowner Rehabilitation Assistance Program funds to help families and individuals living in substandard housing and with little or no resources to make the needed repairs. Lockhart received a $286,000 award with the goal of helping five families and individuals repair or rebuild their home.
When Ms. Brown heard about the program, she quickly applied and said a little prayer that she would be chosen.
“I go to church, I read the Bible, I pay my taxes,” she says. “I said, ‘Lord, if there’s a house for me, please let me get it.’ I prayed, but I didn’t tell nobody. Sometimes you cut off your blessings by telling somebody else. They don’t got to hear your blessings.”
A few months later her prayer was answered. She qualified for the program, and her home was going to get the repairs it needed. But when city officials came out to inspect the house, their assessment was not good: Ms. Brown’s home was beyond repair.
As she explains, the old house was “too little and piecy.”
The city told her it would have to demolish her home and build a new one in its place. Could a new home ever offer her the same comfort and sense of place that the old one did? And what about all those memories from her little house?
“Memories live in your heart, not in a house,” she replies when asked about her old home. “That old house was cold and the floors were giving way. My children come by all the time so I can build new memories in my new house.”
To the surprise of no one, Ms. Brown adjusted to her new surroundings quite nicely. It was a happy event when, joined by a number of family members and caring friends, city officials handed over the keys to her new home.
To learn more about Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, please visit their website.
For information on the HOME Program, see our advocacy page.