Grove Street home gets a new groove|[07/06/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 6, 2007

After nearly two years of waiting, one Vicksburg resident will be able to move back into her home after it sustained damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Birdie Spencer, 810 Grove St., applied for a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development to fix up the outside of her house.

Hurricane Katrina &#8220blew the back wall in and the ceiling fell,” Spencer said. &#8220It was completely unliveable.”

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She received a $27,000 loan to replace the foundation, put on new siding and add two fresh coats of green paint.

Because she used the entire amount for the outside of her home, Spencer said she will be applying for a new loan to fix the ceiling.

Her residence also serves as a beauty salon, and she has been able to keep that operating on and off since the renovations. Now that the bulk of the work is over, she is allowing business to slowly trickle back in, and she can keep up with the job she has loved for 61 years.

Most of the time she has been working out of her daughter’s home, and has been excited about moving back to Grove Street, where she has lived 25 years.

&#8220I didn’t want to have to leave Vicksburg,” Spencer said. I’ve seen all of my children and grandchildren born and raised here.”

She heard about the loan through the Vicksburg Planning Department. Her home is in the historic district and she was notified that she had to renovate after Katrina.

Lennell Henry, Rural Development’s manager for Warren County, said Spencer’s house looks totally different than it did in 2005.

&#8220It was difficult to get it started,” Henry said. &#8220The first contractor we had for Birdie’s house was not licensed, so we had get other bids for it.”

Spencer is paying a 1 percent interest loan back to the USDA at $34.50 a month, but it will go up after she takes out another $7,000 for the roof and ceiling.

Loans below $7,500 can be granted without using real estate as collateral.

Although all Katrina funds have been allocated, applications for other federal grants and loans from the USDA office can be obtained at 819 South St.

Loans can be made anywhere from $200-$20,000, but there are certain qualifications. Loans are specifically for low-income residents. A single-person household would have to have an annual income of less than $16,400 and a family of four would have to make less than $23,450.

&#8220It helps people like Birdie get their homes to where they want to be,” Henry said. &#8220She got her home fixed up just in time for National Home Ownership Month.”