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Grant program to help repair aging homes called agodsend
Johnny and Mattie Harris have lived in their home for over 40 years raising a family and now entertaining their visiting grandchildren. To help families keep their aging homes on a solid foundation, a few Hall County homeowners have received grants to improve the conditions of their homes.

To find help

Any homeowner interested in applying for future CHIP funds is asked to contact the Hall County Financial Services Department at 770-535-8274.

Johnny Harris once hunted deer and rabbit and squirrel in the dense forests behind the home he has shared with his wife, Mattie, since it was first built in Morningside Heights on Gainesville’s south side in the 1970s.

It was a little slice of heaven for Johnny and Mattie, who grew up in the days of segregation.

“Nobody bothered nobody,” Johnny said.

It’s a still a pleasant place to live, no doubt. But things have changed.

The woods have grown smaller as development creeps, and firing a rifle in these populated parts today would be dangerous and likely prompt a response from the police.

And the Harris’ home, a three-bedroom ranch style mid-century modern sitting on a hill above the residential streets of what remains a relatively quiet subdivision of predominantly middle-class African-American families, has weathered with the years.

Cracks in the floor are showing, the roof is falling through in parts and the insulation is paper-thin.

However, thanks to a state grant program, the home will be renovated next year.

“We’re just so happy to get it,” Mattie said of the funding.

They are one of seven Hall County homeowners in the final stages of approval to receive funding as part of the Department of Community Affairs efforts to maintain quality affordable housing for middle- and low-income families.

Community HOME Investment Program, or CHIP, also assists local governments, nonprofits and public housing authorities in addressing neighborhood blight.

Carrie Ivey, who also lives on the south side off Athens Highway, is a recipient, too.

Her husband, who passed away earlier this year, built the home for the newly married couple in 1972. But time has taken its toll on the foundation, which is showing cracks, and windows need weatherizing

Work is expected to begin in early 2017.

“It’s been a rough time,” Ivey said of the last few months as she stared misty-eyed at the pictures of children and grandchildren dotting the walls of her living room.

But the blessing of having been chosen to have her home renovated serves as a reminder to carry on.

“To me, it’s everything,” Ivey said, describing the support as a “godsend.”

Hall County Commissioner Jeff Stowe said Hall County is currently applying for additional grant funding for reconstruction, new construction and neighborhood revitalization.

“There’s a lot of homes that need a lot of renovations done,” Ivey said.