HOPE IN WAITING
Mr. Lowery came to LSLA's Angleton office in January, seeking assistance with an application for Community Development Block Grant funds to repair or rebuild his manufactured home. Mr. Lowery is disabled and lives with his wife and two young children.
After Hurricane Ike, FEMA provided funds for temporary rental assistance and a little less than $2,000 for repair of his home. A contractor later estimated the repair would cost approximately $26,000. Mr. Lowery struggled to clear trees and secure his property with blue tarps and plywood to cover the exposed walls, floors, and ceiling as best he could. Without funds to make further repairs, he is completely dependent upon successfully working through the maze of red tape associated with the CDBG disaster relief home repair grant process.
Several legal obstacles stood in his way. He had purchased the manufactured home for cash from someone who did not have record title. To complicate matters, the manufactured home did not have a serial number. The deed to the land was in the name of a person who could not be located and was believed deceased. Mr. Lowery had lived on the property in the home since 2000. He had paid some taxes, although the taxes were now delinquent. The tax office had listed him only one time as the payor in its records. He had a notarized bill of sale from the non-title holder stating he was purchasing the manufactured home for $10,000. A subsequent note stated that the land was included, too. The obstacles were not as compelling as his need for housing.
It appeared from Mr. Lowery's longevity at the residence, his effort to make the payments, and the lack of any adverse party that he was the owner of the property. We completed the CDBG application with all the requested attachments in February, and in March, more documents were required. Mr. Lowery needed a delinquent tax agreement signed by the county, a statement of location (and ownership) from the Texas Department of Manufactured Housing, an affidavit of ownership and statement of efforts in due diligence to locate the record owner, and homestead exemption (and hopefully deferment of taxes). In addition, he did not have the funds for the application fees. In fact, he finds it hard to buy gas for his car. Lina Cornier, legal assistant, drove to his home and obtained notarized statements as well as assisted him with collecting documents from two years ago. We negotiated a delinquent tax agreement with the attorney in charge of county delinquent taxes, who then gave Mr. Lowery a letter indicating his tax payment. We obtained a statement of location from the Manufactured Home Division.
Houston-Galveston Area Council notified LSLA that all documents were received and his application would be sent to TDHCA for approval. However, a subsequent update yet again requested additional information. We have submitted the new documentation and are waiting, along with Mr. Lowery, for a final decision on his application.