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Donna Family Seeks Home Restoration Assistance Following Fire

3 years 11 months 3 weeks ago Tuesday, September 19 2017 Sep 19, 2017 September 19, 2017 4:47 PM September 19, 2017 in News

DONNA – A Donna family said their application for assistance to have their home restored after a fire was denied and they don't know why.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reported about 97-year-old Jose Leos, who lost his home of 55 years in a fire earlier in September. His family reached out for help in restoring the house.

Diana Leos is the daughter-in-law of Jose. She watched as the remains of the home were bulldozed over.

"This is where all the children were brought up, like 55 years ago. This is their home," she said.

For the Leos family, there is not just pain over losing this important part of their family's life, but also in finding a new place to stay. Leos was living in the home with other family members.

"They're staying with my niece and my niece has a tiny little shack," said Leos.

Leos added two of her family members went to Habitat for Humanity in McAllen to apply to have a home built where the old one stood, but she said they were turned away.

"They say they did not meet the qualifications. Her credit is not good and I don't know... whatever," she said. 

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to Habitat for Humanity executive director Wayne Lowry. He said the family has not been rejected but it has not been approved either.

Lowry said it was a misunderstanding with the family. He could not comment on the specific case, but said the family has to meet minimum requirements.

"We do credit checks. Although the credit score itself is not a determining factor, we look at people's credit history to determine whether or not they are committed to honoring their commitments," Lowry explained. 

Lowry said he is willing to meet with the Leos family personally to make sure the application is filled out properly. This would help it get through the application process smoothly.

Lowry added the application process to rebuild a home can take up to six months.

He said the Leos family would also have to be willing to participate in sweat equity, meaning its members would agree to help build the house.

The application process for Habitat for Humanity to rebuild a home has four steps:

First, an applicant must submit a pre-screening questionnaire with required documents. The application asks for income information.

After the application is processed and reviewed by staff, the applicant would then have a home visit and committee interview.

From there, the project is up for board approval.

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