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Grant money to help fix dilapidated Cochran homes

A few weeks ago, the City of Cochran received an over $870,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help revitalize homes.

COCHRAN, Ga. — History runs deep in April Smith's home in Cochran

“My mother, she was raised in this house, as well as her mother. Over, like, 100 years of family,” she explained. 

Love like that can wear a place down. 

“Like my kitchen,” Smith said. “I have a whole lot of damage in there, because we took a chimney out, and it started raining and that was the first place that started deteriorating.”

Other problem areas are her bathroom and walk-in closet. 

“I had been trying to do a little work all along, but it started getting overwhelming and expensive,” Smith said. 

She’s not the only one with house problems. 

“I have problems with my floors, wall problems, you know,” Mary Stanley says. 

Over 30 years in this home, Stanley says she used to be able to fix it up. 

“Now that I'm disabled and things are falling apart and you don't have the funds to get repaired,” she said. 

Cochran city leaders say some homes on the north side of town are deteriorating and in need of repair. 

They say they just got a federal grant for $872,013 dollars to repair those homes and more.

There are 15 homes like Stanley and Smith that all have two things in common. One: they all have serious code violations. Two: they’ve all received federal grant money from the City of Cochran to fix them.

“It is great news for the city,” Cochran Mayor Billy Yeomans said. 

He says they applied for the over $870,000 grant last year but didn’t get it. 

“We went at it a little stronger this year. We had some great people that helped out. Two councilmen from the district, Council member Gary Ates and Council member Keith Anderson– I mean, they really worked hard," Yeomans said. "It’s just a combination of a lot of people doing a lot of work.” 

Yeomans said this Community Development Block Grant will help 33 folks on the north side of town. That includes Ash Street, Sixth Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, where folks like Smith and Stanley live. 

“Some people just can't afford to fix them up,” he said. “They've given an awful lot to this city and this county and you just want to help people out like that."

Yeomans says people had to meet certain standards to qualify and the grant requires homeowners to pitch in a small sum for repairs, but it's worth it. 

“Make people feel good about themselves,” he said. 

That love runs deep. 

“All the while we was probably thinking that don't nobody care how we was making it. How our home was falling apart,” Stanley said. “It won't be too much longer, so we won't have to be looking at the holes in the floor, or in the walls, or leaking ceilings. It makes us feel so much better that the prayers that we've been praying, God has answered them.”

“I want to continue to keep this house because it has a lot of history,” Smith said. 

Mayor Yeomans says part of the grant will go toward the north side's infrastructure. That includes things like water and sewer, repaving roads and more.     

He says they will begin repairs as soon as they contract with a company.

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