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Marion families open door to new homes

MARION— Dreams do come true.

For three hardworking and grateful families in Perry County, dreams of a new home became a reality Tuesday through a partnership between Sowing Seeds of Hope and the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

“It really is a dream come true,” said Annie Mae Billingsley, one of the new homeowners. “When people ask, I tell them this is God’s house, he’s just letting me live in it.”

Billingsley, Robert Meal Jones and Willie Lee Jones, Nakia King and Jeffery Brown all received the keys their new, low-interest homes Tuesday at their individual homes.

The grants were the first of their kind awarded by the USDA Rural 0Development in Alabama in 20 years

“It’s wonderful to see the finished product,” said Frances Ford, Executive Director of Sowing Seeds of Hope. “To actually see that, and know the time and patience it took for us to get here. It was wonderful to see they city working together.”

Ann Jones, housing coordinator for Sowing Seeds said the project broke ground in March of 2009 after four families qualified for the homes.

In order to qualify, the families had to provide a minimum of 65 percent of the labor to build their new homes.

“They have a lot of ‘sweat equity,’” said Jones. “They saved about $25,000 on each home though that work.”

New owner Jeffery Brown said he appreciated his new home more knowing the work that went into it.

“It took a lot of hard work,” said Brown. “I would work on the house everyday after work and every weekend. Now that it is ready, it’s like a dream.”

The families also worked on the other homes before moving on to the next phase.

“Everybody worked on everybody’s house,” said Jones. “They all have to work on each other’s house. Typically they don’t move in until everyone is done. We couldn’t let one family move in without the other ones.”

Jones said the fourth home is still under work because it was more complex than the other three homes.

The cost of the homes came from grants from the USDA Rural Development through its Mutual Self-Housing Program.