Renovated drug house is family’s Christmas gift

City problems of blighted abandoned houses and homelessness rage on, but sometimes there are small victories.

On Thursday, Latoya Caldwell and her four children moved into a renovated former drug house.

Jackson County officials surprised her with it, complete with new appliances, a Christmas tree and presents.

Caldwell, who grew up in a crack house, had been living with her children in a relative’s unheated attic.

“Thank you for selecting me and my family,” she told county officials. “This year has been rough.”

The county also provided another renovated house in the Ivanhoe neighborhood area to another single mother and her children. Her identity is not being released because of domestic violence problems.

They are the fourth and fifth homes provided under the Jackson County Constructing Futures program started in 2008.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders said, “There are thousands of families who are equally deserving but unfortunately there are not enough homes for them all.”

The two houses cost about $90,000 in tax money to renovate plus much donated work and material.  Parolees learn skills by doing much of the work.

Social service providers pick the home recipients, after a long process.

Caldwell, 30, explained that she was told some time ago she was among 10 finalists, then told recently she was among three.

Then they told her they would announce who got the houses this Friday. Instead they surprised her on Thursday.

Now if she makes seven years of monthly payments that cover things like taxes and insurance, she will own the house.

She works at a Wendy’s and had declined offers of a promotion to spend more time caring for her children. They range in age from 2 to 12 and three of them have special needs, officials said.

On her new couch with her children, across from the Christmas tree, Caldwell said she now plans to take that promotion at Wendy’s.

“Everything is starting to fall into place,” she said. “It’s wonderful.”

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