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Volume 68, Issue 62, Wednesday, November 20, 2002


Call it home, sweet home

Family attains homeownership through redevelopment plan

By Chisom Uluh
The Daily Cougar

A UH shuttle bus driver has a new home thanks to the help of local nonprofit organizations, area businesses and the Houston Texans.

Alice Johnson, a 20-year Houston native, and her 12-year-old son, Terrence, have been working in a homeownership program with the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corp for the past two years. 

Johnson moved into the Fifth Ward house Tuesday morning. Among those attending were U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and three members of the Houston Texans: Tony Boselli, Jermaine Lewis and Jay Foreman.

UH shuttle bus driver Alice Johnson (center) and her son Terrence move into their new home Tuesday morning. The home was purchased with the help of local and national charities and corporations. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Houston Texans football players Jermaine Lewis, Jay Foreman and Tony Boselli were on hand for the ceremony.
Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

She has worked to clear up her past credit problems and attended credit-financing classes. Through the program, which is affiliated with Sears' American Dream Campaign, she was able to get financial assistance to buy her three-bedroom home.

"I was determined to follow through the plan so my son could grow up in a house," Johnson said.

Many new appliances were at the house, waiting to be carted in by the football players, Sears' employees and members of Fifth Ward CRC.

Kathy Flanagan-Payton, the CEO and president of Fifth Ward CRC, said the organization began in 1989 when a group of Fifth Ward residents came together to help low-income citizens in the area purchase homes or space for local businesses.

Flanagan-Payton said any Fifth Ward resident is welcome to work through the program to receive assistance to own a home and resolve credit issues.

Fifth Ward CRC recently became a partner of NeighborWorks, a nationwide non-profit organization trying to help people of minority buy homes throughout the United States. Sears is donating $100 million over the next five years to NeighborWorks.

For Johnson's house, Sears donated a refrigerator, two mattresses, a lawn mower, a television and other appliances and will donate more appliances to the nine other people who will purchase a home with the help of NeighborWorks and the Fifth Ward CRC this year.

Steve Kendziera, the district general manager for the Sears, Roebuck & Co. in Houston, said the company decided to begin this campaign in response to President Bush's State of the Union address this year, in which he called upon the private sector to help increase the number of minority homeowners in cities like Houston. 

City Hall employees were alson on hand.

Frank Lopez, the manager for the Department of Solid Waste Management, said the mayor's office is going to continue to be involved in this organization.

"You never saw programs like this years ago," Lopez said. "Finally the city's coming around."

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