BELTON — Rita Goad turned the key in the door, then walked into the Belton home she had not been able to enter for the past four years.

In 2010, the dilapidated house in the 300 block of Beal Street was condemned; Goad and her husband were forced to leave.

However, because of a grant from the Texas HOME program, which repairs or rebuilds houses owned by low-income families, Goad finally went back home Monday.

“I can’t imagine what’s going through your mind right now,” Mayor Jim Covington said to Goad during the city’s welcoming ceremony.

Goad, her arms wrapped around her son’s arm, stood on her front porch and received the new house key presented by city officials.

The day she and her husband left their home of more than 20 years, they had nowhere to go but a hotel room.

Soon after, the rented room was almost all they had left as people ransacked furniture from the abandoned house.

A friend told Goad about the HOME program and urged her to apply for a grant. The program, through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, helps families renovate homes that need major repairs such as new roofs or plumbing. If the house is not repairable, it is torn down and replaced. Since 2001, the HOME program has contributed more than $2 million to build or repair 32 homes in Belton. Three of those houses were built or renovated this year.

Those who qualified for funding earn 60 percent or less than the average median income of Bell County, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines.

Goad lived with friends as her old house was taken down and a new one built in its place.

Her husband passed away before he saw the completed home.

However, longtime friends and her son walked with her as she toured the three bedrooms and two bathrooms of her new house. “Wonderful,” she said.

Goad saw some things she hadn’t expected: a new washer and dryer in the kitchen, and in the front yard near the driveway, the cactus given to her by her late husband. Surrounding the cactus were stones taken from the walls of the old house.

“This (home) is an example of how the city and state government can work together to help residents in Belton,” Covington said.

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