“I can say – like the song – for once in my life I have something I can call my own,” Anderson said, shaking a little.
She was alluding to Stevie Wonder’s song, “For Once In My Life.”
Anderson, 68, was one of four new homeowners who received a new brick home on April 2 under a Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs program.
The town of Refugio applied for the housing in May 2011.
Donna Johnson, director of the home program for GrantWorks in the area said, after the town applied, 13 Refugio residents applied for the homes, and four were successful.
“It benefits low income Texans who are homeowners but live in substandard housing,” Johnson said.
She said the program has resulted in three homes in the county, five in Woodsboro, three in Bayside and now four in Refugio.
Johnson said the homeowners are required to live in the new homes.
“The city is going to continue in the program. There were several people who almost made it,” she said.
“The program benefits the whole community,” she added.
“The homeowner gets affordable housing; it does well for the town because the tax value of the structure increases; and, of course, the whole neighborhood or block will start to spruce themselves up,” she said.
Anderson said her husband Herman died in 1992, and since that time she’s raised four children.
Tears were welling up as she said her “baby boy died three years ago.” She said her son Michael was 33 when he passed away.
“I’m saying they’re looking down on us,” she said.
Anderson has lived in a small trailer home while she worked and raised her children.
“The trailer had two bedrooms, one on each side. The two oldest slept in the front room,” she said.
“I told my daughter-in-law Carol and son Herman I was going to sleep here (in the new home) tonight,” Anderson said.
“They said I had no bed,” she said. “I can sleep on the floor.”
“I’m basically speechless. I am so proud to have this,” she said.
The application process and construction took a while, however.
“It’s been three years coming. It started when Michael died,” she added.
The new brick homes come with a refrigerator, stove, tankless efficient water heater, dishwasher, washer/dryer, garbage disposal and central air and heat.
“All we tell them is they will get a refrigerator and stove,” Johnson said. “the surprise is all the other appliances.”
The new homeowners are not allowed to see the insides of the new homes until the keys are handed over to them.
George Russell, also with GrantWorks, said showing the homes and explaining how everything works is fun.
“This is the favorite part of my job. I get to be Santa Claus the whole year,” he said.
Mary Cantu, 74, also had keys turned over to her.
Her substandard home was torn down, and the new home was built on the same lot on East Jeter Street.
Going through the house, she, too, was speechless.
“Ahh. Ahh,” she kept saying in astonishment.
Her grandson Steven Cantu, 19, said his grandmother had shed some tears of happiness.
Cantu’s husband, Tiburcio Cantu, died six years ago.
“I’m kind of nervous. I just can’t believe it,” Cantu said.
And Mary Avila, 68, also had keys handed to her to her new brick home on Raphael Street.
Her daughter, Liz Longoria, said her mother was very happy.
“It’s a dream come true. Everything is very beautiful,” Avila said.
She liked the big bedrooms, her daughter said.
Avila has a ruptured disc and had to stop working.
“I would love for everyone to have a house like this,” Avila said.
Mayor Rey Jaso gave her a blessing, saying he wished her good health through the years to enjoy the house.
Avila, too, had lived in a substandard house that was torn down. She had lived in it since 1989 and cried to see it torn down.
“Her house had a lot of holes in it,” Longoria said.
Now, Avila is happier than ever.
Also, John Carter Jr. was the fourth recipient of a new brick home on Barefield Street.
Carter said his family had the first home on the lot where the new one had been constructed in 1945. He said that lot and home had been bought for $500 back then.
Carter, 62, said he has been blessed.
“Thank the good Lord and everybody else who helped out,” he said.