Matilda Coronado has a new home today, thanks to the city’s revamped and recovering home repair program that fell under a cloud of controversy just a few years ago.
Coronado is clearly proud of her brand new home, set in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood on the city’s southeast side. She has to pause as she stands outside the front door, next to freshly planted flowers and a “Welcome Home” ribbon.
“I’m really happy and thank you for everything that they have done for me. During all this time that we were waiting for this house, to move in, my husband passed away, but I’m pretty sure that he’s happy too.”
Coronado is one of the first of dozens of homeowners the city plans to help under its revised Home Repair Program, just months after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development froze millions of dollars in funding because of a lack of city oversite. Housing Department Assistant Director Ruben Guerrero says things have changed.
“We are basically at a point right now where we are crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s and making sure that we abide by all the HUD regulations. We don’t want what’s happened in the past in other administrations to happen to us. We’re off and running and doing a great job. Some of the people that we’ve brought on now under this administration are working real real hard to get things done.”
HUD funds were unfrozen last year and the program is back on track, with a backlog of homes that qualify for repairs or replacement under specific guidelines that include age requirements and income levels. HUD’s Houston Field Office director Dr. David Pringle says with a little help, the program is back on track.
“As with any program, anything that has a HUD oversight, our folks are constantly checking to make sure that things are on track and continue to go on track so we don’t fall into the same situation as we did before.”
The Coronado home was built in just 90 days after her old home was demolished. Greg Swan is the project manager for Houston Housing and oversaw the project.
“I know where the problems were in the past. All I know it that we’re giving every effort to try to improve. We’re trying to follow the rules to the letter and I see nothing but good for the program in the future.”