This past fall, 101-year-old Detroit resident Texana Hollis watched in tears from her wheelchair as her belongings of more than 60 years were thrown into a trash hauler when she was evicted from her home.
Last week, Hollis cried tears of joy as when she returned to her previously dilapidated house, which is being refurbished by a charity for the homeless run by best-selling author and Detroit Free Press sports columnist Mitch Albom. The author of “Tuesdays With Morrie’’ and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven’’ pushed Hollis up a newly wheelchair built ramp into her home, which is expected to be completely fixed up by next week.
“Words can’t express how I feel,’’ Hollis told the Detroit Free Press. “I just thank each and every one of you that had a hand in getting my house back."
Her eviction on September 14, which resulted from one of her sons failing to pay taxes on the house after taking out a reverse mortgage, made national headlines. The public outcry resulted in the Department of Housing and Urban Development reversing its decision to have her evicted after it foreclosed on her home. However, HUD ruled in January that the home was unsafe to live in.
At that point, others offered to buy the property out of foreclosure, but HUD was not going to sell it without a guarantee that the buyer would also invest in fixing up the property to HUD’s standards. It needed several ramps and other adjustments to make it wheelchair accessible for Hollis.
Albom purchased the property for $100 from HUD. His charity, Super All Year (S.A.Y.) Detroit, in conjunction with Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, contributed $20,000 to fix the house. Everything from the walls to the appliances to the ceilings are being fixed or replaced.
“Everyone deserves a home,’’ Albom said in a S.A.Y. Detroit news release. “Especially one they have lived in for 60 years. I am blessed to be able to help this sweet and deserving woman, who told me her husband got her that house after returning from World War II.’’
The work to repair the house is being done by volunteers for Tamber Builders in Dearborn, Mich., which works in conjunction with the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. S.A.Y. Detroit, which Albom founded in 2006, has raised and distributed more than $2 million for various projects in Detroit such as a medical clinic for homeless children, a daycare center, a kitchen for homeless military veterans and various property refurbishments like Hollis’s home.
“I cherish the partnership with Mitch Albom, and it makes you feel proud, humble and happy to bring joy to a 101-year-old lady,’’ said Chad Audi, the president of Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, in a release.
The volunteers are part of a Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries program that takes those who may have been homeless, in prison or undergone substance abuse detox and gives them a chance to prove they can hold a job and handle the responsibilities of a homeowner. Members of the program who meet certain guidelines are then eligible to receive a home of their own from the program.
The volunteers work as apprentices to learn skills like plumbing, carpentry and more. Harold Marshall, 56, is a Detroit resident who served three years in prison for home invasion and now works with Tamer Builders, and he was there to welcome Hollis home.
“I feel good doing it,’’ Marshall told the Detroit Free Press. “My crime, I was taking people’s stuff. Now, I’m helping people. I think I might be feeling as happy as she is.’’
This is the fifth home that the charity has rehabbed, according to Karen Love, the director of media and community relations for Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.
“Everything is still in (Hollis’s) name, with the stipulation that everything goes back to her,’’ Love told TODAY.com.
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