US Rep. Alma Adams announces $75,000 grant for East Spencer

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 27, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

EAST SPENCER — East Spencer native Geneva Turner received a true “miracle” this summer after the town made much-needed repairs to her home.

The repairs were possible through a Community Development Block Grant that, following an application process, was able to fix the floors throughout Turner’s home, make repairs to her front and back porches, and add safety railing inside her bathroom.

With a new grant, the town can do more of that work.

U.S Rep. Alma Adams, along with USDA and town officials, announced the receipt of the grant during a Wednesday morning press conference. The town received a $75,000 housing preservation grant through rural development funds that can be used to rehabilitate up to nine homes.

“This money will provide a vital help to assist low-income households in Rowan County and whose homes are in need of repair,” said Adams, a Democrat who represents the state’s 12th Congressional District.

She said with a median household income of $20,000 and an unemployment rate higher than the state average, this funding is “critical and will truly help some of the neediest in this community.”

Adams said in every community, “one size doesn’t fit all and there are so many things that each community needs.”

USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Lisa Mensah, who also spoke, said when she speaks about rural housing programs, she often speaks about a sense of place.

“Within any rural community, a sense of place encompasses more than just one home,” she said.

Mensah said it also encompasses education, health care and local business.

“I can’t think of a way to more directly influence a sense of place than to improve people’s homes,” Mensah said.

Geneva Turner initially didn’t believe she’d qualify for the home improvement, but she trusted the Lord to provide help.

She sat down and asked the Lord to send help to her for the needed repairs.

“When he brings that blessing to you, it’s a wonderful thing,” Turner said.

She’s lived in her home since 1988 and hasn’t been able to afford to make the necessary repairs. She’s had a couple of surgeries on both of her legs and hasn’t worked since her doctor told her it was time to stop, which was over 20 years ago.

“It was a miracle, and God made it possible for me to be able to have this,” Turner said.

The work began in July and was complete by early August.

Turner was one of three residents who spoke to those gathered at the press conference about their home repairs and what it meant for them.

Mayor Barbara Mallett said the town has to invest in its people and in turn the people have to invest in the town.

“We value them because we want to show them that we are continuing to be in progress,” Mallett said of East Spencer residents.

Randall Gore, state director for Rural Development at the USDA, talked about the town being able to marry some leftover funds from a Community Development Block Grant with the USDA grant to help the residents. 

Gore also encouraged the town to revisit USDA Rural Development to apply for a grant that would help them make even more improvements to homes within the town.

In North Carolina, USDA has provided $1.3 million in Housing Preservation Grants since the start of the Obama Administration. Nationally, USDA has provided $51 million in Housing Preservation Grants. These grants have leveraged more than $184 million to repair and rehabilitate nearly 13,000 homes and apartments in rural communities.

Visit to learn more about rural programs available at a local USDA Rural Development office.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.