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MISSOURI CITY, TEXAS (October 30, 2023) – A “blessing.” That’s the word Dorothy Kimble and Vesser Mason use to describe the Missouri City Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Kimble and Mason share similar life stories: Both bought their homes decades ago, when they were fully employed and healthy. Over time, things changed. Now they are retired, dealing with health issues, and facing costly home repairs.
"I have rheumatoid arthritis, and sometimes it is really hard to move around,” said Kimble. “I am on a fixed income, and I have not been able to get the repairs my home needs.”
Missouri City’s CDBG program, funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), repaired Kimble's house foundation. A toilet and her outside gutters were replaced, and additional improvements were made to her plumbing system.
For Mason – a cancer patient – being approved for the program resulted in the installation of handicap rails in her bathroom and a new bathroom floor.
Residents such as Kimble and Mason are the reason Marissa Morgan wakes up daily. Morgan is the CDBG Coordinator for Missouri City who manages and administers the program. Morgan personally reviews and assesses each application. Often, she is apologetic when informing applicants that the repairs must serve a life-saving purpose. Applications requesting remodeling or beautification projects are simply not eligible.
"I take the application and make sure the applicants meet the requirements,” said Morgan. “Then I set up a folder, and I start scheduling the inspectors to go and see what they need.”
A decisive factor when approving the applications, says Morgan, is not the applicant’s age, but their household income. The 2023 annual median income for a one-person household needs to fall in the HUD categories of Extremely Low Income ($19,600), Very Low Income ($32,650), or Low Income ($52,500).
To be eligible, the house needs to be within the geographical boundaries of Missouri City. Morgan says she frequently has to ask applicants to be patient, as many believe they will receive the repair money up front. CDBG is a reimbursement federal program; successful applicants are not responsible for paying the contractors.
"We, in the Department of Development Services/CDBG at Missouri City, have contractors,” she said. “Initially, the contractors put in the work and the capital. We, as the government, monitor the progress and completion of the project, and they get paid by us."
The CDBG program also has an educational component — a scholarship program designed for low-to-moderate-income students who reside in an eligible household and are enrolled in a community college, university, or vocational program.
Knowing the anguish many low-income residents experience when seeing the deterioration of their homes, Morgan has one message for them: “We are here. We are ready, and we are willing to work with the residents of Missouri City.”
To apply, visit the Missouri City Community Development Block Grant.
Photo: Dorothy Kimble at her residence.