Wheelchair-bound Detroit resident and centenarian Texana Hollis wept on September 14, 2011 as she watched her belongings, accumulated over the past 60 years, being loaded into a trash hauler. She was being evicted from her home.
That sorry day was followed by a more joyous one last week when she was allowed to return to the home through a series of fortunate events.
It started when her case made national headlines because her son, who had taken out a reverse mortgage on the property, failed to pay the taxes and it was disclosed that Hollis would be evicted. Public outcry was so intense that the Department of Housing and Urban Development reviewed the case and reversed the decision to have Hollis evicted after foreclosing on her home. Things got sticky in January, though, when HUD decided the property was not fit to live in.
Numerous offers were received to buy the home out of foreclosure but HUD stood firm. Any buyers would also have to guarantee that repairs which would make the house livable would also be done. Among the repairs needed were several wheelchair ramps and other modifications that would make it livable for Hollis.
That’s when Mitch Albom stepped in. The best-selling author of books, including “Tuesdays with Morrie’’ and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,’’ is also a sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press. He is also associated with the Detroit-based charity Super All Year (S.A.Y.). He bought the property from HUD for $100 and through contributions from his charity and Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, managed to put up the $20,000 to make the HUD-required repairs. In addition to ramps, walls, ceilings and appliances are either being repaired or replaced. Volunteers from Tamber Builders are supplying much of the labor for the project.
The author personally pushed Hollis up the newly built ramp to her home as she once again cried – this time tears of joy. Hollis was grateful to everyone who had a hand in restoring her home to her. Albom believes everyone has a right to a home, especially one they have lived in for 60 years.