New project helps tornado survivors become homeowners

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) – Dirt is being moved on an empty lot in Harrison Township after a groundbreaking ceremony for the first home being built through the Tornado Survivors Pathway to Homeownership Project.  

The Miami Valley Long Term Recovery Operations Group has helped 2076 families since the Tornadoes. Now through the Pathways Project, qualified tornado survivors can receive help to become homeowners.  

“It’s a beautiful thing,” Marva Willimas-Parker said. “One of the ladies that I actually talked to actually started crying just reminiscing about that night. How she went to sleep and woke up to chaos, not knowing where she was going to go.” 

Williams-Parker is the administrative coordinator at the HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton.  

“I get the honor and the privilege to receive all the applications for this particular project,” Williams-Parker said. “When I get those applications, I personally call the applicants, trying to get a feel for them, trying to hear their stories, see what their personalities are like, that way I can find the perfect homeownership advisor to pair them up with.” 

The HomeOwnership Center is currently working with 17 families who are renters impacted by the tornado. Williams-Parker said many of the families spend 36 to 40 percent of their income on rent.  

“We’re really helping these people recover what was lost,” Parker-Williams said. “We’re also adding to the communities. We’re building and rehabbing homes for people that are going to appreciate it and they’re also going to beautify the neighborhood.” 

The homes being built are a collaboration between the Miami Valley Long Term Recovery Operations Group and 21 partners.  

The first home construction project is being led by Sinclair Community College’s Construction Technologies program faculty.  

Laura Mercer is the Miami Valley Long Term Recovery Executive Director. She said this is just one of many vacant lots in Harrison Township, Trotwood, and Old North Dayton that will be turned into new homes. 

“If you are a victim and you need assistance you can apply for this particular Pathways Project online at our website,” Parker Williams said.  

She said they are also looking for volunteers to help. A form can be found at the HomeOwnership Center website.  

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