By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Monday afternoon for the first home to be torn down and quickly rebuilt through the General Land Office’s Homeowners Assistance Program.
The house, owned by Brooksie Skramstad, was demolished following the groundbreaking, during which GLO representatives, as well as representatives from Stonewater construction firm, spoke. Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette and representatives from the offices of
Congressman Brian Babin and State Rep. James White also spoke.
Skramstad’s home was damaged during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The GLO’s program was established to help residents of several counties who own homes affected by the hurricane.
Sheila Schumer, the owner of Stonewater, the firm handling the rebuilding of the house, said “We are excited to be the builder, and excited to get this started. It really takes a group effort.”
Brittany Eck with the GLO said that there is a misconception among some about the program. “Many people believe it’s too good to be true,” she said.
Eck said the GLO is currently accepting applications from homeowners whose primary homes were damaged in the hurricane. Eck said the services covered under the recovery assistance include repair and/or rehabilitating homes, or full construction, if the house was destroyed. Eck said structural elevation and other mitigation techniques.
“There are still funds available, so please contact us,” she said. Residents of Tyler, Jasper, Polk, Newton, San Jacinto, Sabine and San Augustine counties are eligible for assistance through the program. A total of $143 million was allocated for assistance in the seven-county region affected by Harvey.
An intake center is located at the Tri-County Community Action Office at 1201 Cardinal Drive in Woodville. It is open on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Eck said homeowners can apply in person at the center or fill out an application online. The funding is first-come, first-serve and Eck said that under federal regulations, 75% of the funds are to be spent on low-to-moderate income homeowners. “These funds are meant for those who are struggling and might not have the means to repair available,” she said.
Eck added that the repair/rebuilding will be done under the terms that HUD has put in place to meet the needs of the family. “They will get homes that are safe and built up to full code compliance ready for them to move back in,” she said.
Once a homeowner is greenlit for assistance, the builders have a 120-day window in which to rebuild or make repairs. Most of the projects, including the one begun on Monday, will take about a month, according to Eck.