Sherman paved the way for a family to get a new home Tuesday when it donated an unused, city-owned lot to Habitat for Humanity of Grayson County. This marks the first time that the city has donated a lot to the humanitarian organization which assists families with the construction of low-cost homes.
The lot has been in the city’s possession for nearly 80 years on First Street between King and Cherry Streets. The neighborhood is currently slated for redevelopment with several low-to-moderate income homes expected to be built in the near future.
“We thought this would be a good place for habitat because those other lots will be coming online soon as low income housing,” Asst. City Manager Terrence Steele said.
The city first started considering donations to the organization about four months ago after representatives approached Sherman. This led city leaders to start looking into what lots the city owned that would be right for Habitat’s mission.
Early on, the search found three lots that met the criteria. However, city leaders only moved forward with the First Street lot Tuesday night as the city is still looking into the deed status for the remaining lots.
Steele said the lot was the perfect fit for Habitat as the neighboring properties were recently cleared off following the closure of a landscaping business and put out for bid for development this spring. Signs for Earnhartbuilt Construction could be seen in the neighboring lots as of Wednesday afternoon.
With redevelopment interests in the area, Steele said it made sense for the city to deed the property to Habitat and get it back on the city’s tax rolls after the better part of a century.
“It is a win-win situation and a feel good moment for the city as well,” he said.
Currently, Habitat for Humanity has five lots in Denison and three lots in Whitewright available for development for families in need. The organization allows prospective families to acquire low-cost housing by working to build other homes in the region in what it describes as “sweat equity.”
The group completed work on two homes in Sherman earlier this year, but the First Street lot would be the only Sherman lot it currently owns. Prior to the city’s donation, many of the organization’s Sherman lots would come from donations.
“They (Sherman) wanted to donated, but as Terrence said last night, it takes time to make sure everything is clean and the title is good,” said Laurie Mealy, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Grayson County.
The organization is currently working on two homes in Denison, with a third slated to begin construction soon. As households are approved to receive homes, they will be able to choose from the available lots.
Mealy said she was uncertain when the lot would be developed, but she believed it would be prime for families who already live in the city.
“It is wonderful that we now have lots in Sherman for people to choose from,”Mealy said.
Steele said other lots could become available for donation to Habitat, but it will take time to get the proper paperwork and confirmations in place. As an example, Steele said the city recently included several infill lots in a deal to acquire right of way for a street expansion. As such, there are likely other opportunities throughout the city, he said.
Throughout the meeting, members of the council joked about how long the city took to donate the property.
“You guys are really getting awfully rushed on this thing,” council member Josh Stevenson joked.
For her part, Mealy said she expected the lot to be in development within the next year; a far cry from the eight decades it sat vacant.