USDA Presents $78,000 Grant For Home Upgrades In Vinton

POSTED: Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 9:37pm

UPDATED: Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 10:41pm

Some families in Vinton have something to look forward to come 2011: getting some much-needed repairs to their homes. It's all thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. And for one woman, the money comes as blessing.

Estela Onsurez has been living at her home for 20 years now and over time, things have begun deteriorating. The widow, who's on a fixed income, she says she has no money to fix her air conditioning.

"During the summer when it gets hot, I usually open the door and just with the fans, but they blow hot air," said Estela. "You know it's kind of miserable."

And winter's miserable as well, since she has no heater.  "I heat myself with the stove and a small electric heater because back in '07, the whole furnace in my house broke down," said Estela.

Heating your home with your stove is dangerous and Estela says she wound up in the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning. Mounting to her troubles is badly-installed doors and plumbing issues.

"I have a need of replacing all the plumbing in my kitchen. Right now, I have a small leak and it hasn't been replaced since '81," she said.

Fortunately for Estela and a few other families in Vinton, help is on its way. The U.S. Department of Agriculture presented the mayor of Vinton with a ceremonial check of more than $78,151.  The organization runs a special program which helps low- income families in rural areas whose homes need upgrades.

"It's going to provide them with a decent, safe and energy-efficient housing that will help them with their fuel bills, as well as be able to upgrade their homes," said USDA Rural Development State Director Paco Valentin.

For Estela, the grant means not having to choose between her basic daily needs and the necessities for her home. "A great blessing. A great blessing for them to help me because I'm a widow and I don't have any other means," she said.

The money, which comes from a federal grant, will help out at least four families in the Vinton area. For information on how you can apply for assistance from this program go to

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