Historic Home Renovation Grants Run Out

After seeing what Hurricane Katrina did to their nearly 100 year old home, Bobby and DeVeaux Carter seriously considered doing what contractors who inspected the house told them they should do.

"They said, 'You know, you really need to tear this down and start over,'" Bobby Carter said.

But when they heard about the Hurricane Relief Grant Program for Historic Homes, they decided to rebuild instead, with a few improvements included.

"We had to hydraulically jack the whole thing up and level it out," Bobby Carter said. "And so it got recommended that we stay where we are to stabilize the house. What that did was put us, like, three feet from the original location."

It was those improvements that doomed their chances of getting a reimbursement grant.

Chelius Carter administers the program for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

"It's a very nice renovation. It is not a restoration," Chelius Carter said.

Restoration or renovation? It's all irrelevant because, according to Carter, the $26 million appropriated to the state for the program has already been allocated.

"And that's a bitter pill to swallow," Chelius Carter said. "And so we're focusing on the 326 that we have in house now and getting those processed."

All of the 326 applications approved for funding must follow the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Historic Buildings. And all work is closely reviewed by MDAH and the National Park Service.

But, barring any new funding, those 326 approved for grants will be all the vanishing history the federal government will pay to save.

"Tell them to write their congressmen, their representative, that we're doing great work down here and we would love to do more great work," Chelius Carter said.

Bobby and DeVeaux Carter do plan to appeal the department's decision. But even if they don't get any help with their $400,000 investment, they believe it was worth it.

"We're not going anywhere," Bobby Carter said. "We're glad to be here, glad to be in Ocean Springs, and were also glad to save a historic home."