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The Bentley family has lived in a two story house on Merriman Street in Jackson for 12 years. While it is a familiar setting, they’re now seeing it with new eyes following a big makeover. “It’s like a whole new house,” said homeowner Tara Bentley.
In late February, Tara Bentley and her family saw their house for the first time after it was rehabilitated by the City of Jackson. “The work is fantastic. We’re very lucky and blessed,” Bentley said. Tara and her husband, Ken, bought the house in 2007. Over the years, health problems got in the way of home repairs and their safe haven quickly turned into a dangerous place to live. Realizing they had lead paint throughout the house, Bentley contacted the City of Jackson to see what could be done. She soon learned there was help to take care of the lead and much more. “I was stunned. I didn’t know there was help available from the City,” Bentley said.
Starting last fall, the City used federal funds earmarked for home rehabilitation to hire contractors to do a full remodel of the house. After months of repairs and getting everything up to code, the house is finally ready for Tara, Ken, and their two daughters to move back in. “This program is important because I know we’re not the only ones that have problems trying to maintain their homes like elderly or disabled people or just don’t have enough money,” Bentley said.
Jennifer Morris, Director of the City of Jackson Neighborhood and Economic Operations Department, says this is just one of dozens of home rehabs the City has funded over the years through the Home Rehabilitation Program. Morris says residents who are interested in getting similar assistance should contact Neighborhood and Economic Operations at Jackson City Hall. “We have very specific program parameters such as income. They have to be of a low to moderate income level. Our office will work with them to determine if they meet that criteria. Then we start working with them to verify an income source and then do an evaluation of their home to figure out what kind of work needs to be done,” Morris said. Bentley says she wants to get the word out about the program. “Everyone has been so gracious and kind to us. It takes a while so you have to have patience, but I would encourage people to apply, because this saved our house,” Bentley said.
Saving just one house is set to have a big impact in this neighborhood. “Rehabs like this can positively impact property values. It can potentially have an impact on crime reduction, because it is securing properties. It is making sure that a family is able to stay in their home. I think it has a multi-pronged impact on the community as a whole,” Morris said. The Bentleys are now ready to make some new memories in this fresh family home. “It’s going to help make Jackson better. So it’s important that we let them know that this is here to help us to keep our roots where we’re at and to grow into a better city,” Bentley said.
The Neighborhood and Economic Operations Department can be reached at 517-778-4060.
Watch this video to see the transformation of the Bentley's house: