Homeowners are thankful for deferred loan program

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By Jeff M. Hardison

RALEIGH - An elderly Raleigh couple is grateful for a deferred loan, which resulted in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home being built where their house of 46 years once sat.

Thomas Days, 71, and Delories Days, 70, both said on Nov. 8 they "feel real good" about the 1,104 square-foot house that is finished now. Their former house was in significant disrepair, including a roof that leaked.

The new house was relatively inexpensive. Demolition and removal of the old house, combined with construction of the new house cost $79,840, said Carl Dixon "Dick" Tummond III, assistant to the county coordinator. Ten contractors competed for bids in the first phase of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) project for the county, Tummond said, and this brought prices down.

Thomas Days was born in the front yard of his parents' home 71 years ago, he said. That house sat about 100 yards from where his new house exists today, and where he built the other house, he said. He moved back to the Raleigh area to build his own home almost five decades ago.

"Who would have thought I would be here today with this new house?" he said. "God knew all along. There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind, He knew. God is the cause of all this happening."

Tummond said everyone involved with the program has been very appreciative of the help with his or her housing needs.

The Days' home is one of 16 houses in the unincorporated part of Levy County. This is a $1 million CDBG project for housing, Tummond said. The county has enough money to aid 16 applicants now, Tummond said.

Days is pleased with the outcome of his application.

"We were twelfth on the list," Days said, "but this was the first house to be finished."

Days said all this home needs now is to have Central Florida Electric Cooperative turn on the electricity. He hoped it would be connected by Nov. 10, so the family could move in during the weekend. Two of the Days' grandchildren live with them. Grandchildren Brandon Preston, 15, and Shawann Dallas, 8, will make this new house their home too.

Days is a retired machinist who worked for Maddox Foundry in Archer for 23 years. Delories Days said she has been a homemaker all her life. The couple has 12 children, 37 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, she said.

The Florida Department of Community Affairs awarded Levy County $750,000 for this CDBG, Tummond said. Added to that was $315,000 from hurricane recovery funds. Money for this CDBG comes from the federal government, Tummond said, which gives it to the states for distribution.

In the first round of work, there were six houses demolished and replaced, and three other houses were rehabilitated. In the next phase of the project, Tummond said, there will be six "rebuilds" and one "rehab."

This CDBG is similar to the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program. In SHIP, the loan is deferred for 10 years. If the applicant owns and occupies the house for 10 years as their principle residence, the loan is forgiven.

Days first applied for rehabilitation of the old house he built through the SHIP program, Tummond said. The house needed too much work for rehabilitation to be a viable option, he said.

Days built his old house using a handsaw and a "broke off level," he said. The family lived there for 46 years before it needed to be replaced.

These CDBG projects are spread throughout the county, Tummond said, with at least one in each county commissioner's district.

Six of the 16 projects are in the Williston area, he said.

County Commissioner Danny Stevens visited the Days' couple at their completed home.

"It's a wonderful program," Stevens said. "It's a real blessing."

Elected officials are supposed to help people who qualify for assistance, Stevens added.