A home improvement

Robert Coleman (left) stands beside Hopkinsville Mayor Dan Kemp on the steps of Coleman's Younglove Street house. Community and Development Services had his old home demolished and rebuilt, as much of its roof had fallen in and its floors had rotted.

When the elements caused Robert Coleman’s roof to start rotting through, he didn’t have the money to fix it. He’d been laid off from work, his cousin Perry Dillard said.

Pieces tumbled down around him. Rain soaked through the floor, causing it to deteriorate.

“When it rained, it looked like he was standing outside,” Dillard said. Dillard’s father gave Coleman the house.

Coleman had nowhere else to go but the street, he said.

He’s the reason Hopkinsville has a Home Improvement Program. His family petitioned the city for help, and workers from Community and Development Services helped with paperwork and later designed a two-story building to fit his small lot at 826 Younglove St.

After Dillard found a place down the road to rent, the city had his little shack bulldozed and paid a contractor to build the new house.

Mayor Dan Kemp stood on the front steps Thursday and gave Coleman the keys.

Afterward, Angela Satterlee, manager of community development for CDS, said it seems like the “planets have aligned” since 2010. In that time they’ve finished six home reconstructions, and they have one under construction and two almost ready to start, she said.

On some they’ve worked with the Local Development Corporation, and on others with the city government.

It’s the fastest rate of reconstructions since she started there in 2001.

The first key element is securing funding. CDS gets money from both state and federal sources: the Kentucky Housing Corporation and Community Development Block Grants.

But the harder part is finding the right applicants, Satterlee said. To qualify, they can’t owe taxes or have outstanding liens. Certain kinds of mortgages don’t disqualify them. After the new house is built, they must be able to afford insurance.

But they must have low incomes, and their houses must be beyond repair. The program is only available for the inner city.

Coleman didn’t say much Thursday afternoon, just walked around with a grin. He planned to wait one more day before moving in, he said.

REACH NICK TABOR at 270-887-3231 or ntabor@kentuckynewera.com.

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