In this December photo, Chad and Amanda Horton are shown with their five children, ages 7-15, in front of their Rogersville Housing Authority apartment. All photos courtesy of Sheldon Livesay.
ROGERSVILLE — A Hawkins County family of seven on the verge of homelessness in December is close to moving in to a new home thanks to donations gathered by a Rogersville ministry.
In December, Of One Accord ministries director Sheldon Livesay reached out to the community seeking help for Chad and Amanda Horton, and their five children ages 7-15, who were literally only hours from being homeless.
On Dec. 9, the Hortons, who owed the Rogersville Housing Authority about $2,000 in back rent, fees and court costs, were expecting an eviction notice to be served on them at any moment.
With nowhere else to turn, and not even a vehicle for the five children to sleep in, the couple went to Of One Accord’s “Shepherd Center” headquarters in Rogersville seeking help.
The ministry appealed to local police to give them some time before serving the RHA eviction notice and launched a fundraising effort to prevent the family from becoming homeless.
The ministry later acquired temporary housing for the Hortons, as well as $23,000 in contributions, which Livesay has been using to secure a permanent home for the family on property where their original house burned down in February 2013.
Livesay said that as of Thursday nearly all of the money had been spent on the new home, site preparation and other expenses related to setting up the home.
Shortly after Christmas the Hortons’ old burned-out house was removed from their property on Route 70 just north of Rogersville, and site preparation began.
A used mobile home that Livesay purchased from Clayton Homes in Johnson City was moved to the Horton property this week.
The family will be able to move in as soon as the water, electricity and septic service are hooked to the trailer, and the underpinning installed.
“The trailer was right at $17,000, and then we paid $3,800 to get the house taken down,” Livesay said. “We’ve also had a few other little expenses we weren’t expecting, so we’re not going to have any left over, and I might have to dig into some other money to finalize everything.”
Livesay said the Hortons’ move-in timeline is uncertain because the man doing the remaining work is experiencing family problems that were occupying his time. But the move is expected very soon.
“It will be as quick as possible,” Livesay said. “The goal from the beginning was to stabilize, and to especially stabilize the mother, who has been having depression problems.”
Chad Horton is a cancer survivor who has endured nine surgeries and receives disability benefits of about $1,000 per month. Amanda is unemployed and seeking disability.
Initially, the ministry planned to raise enough money to help the family find another apartment. After learning more about Chad and Amanda, however, Livesay decided that wouldn’t be a good permanent solution.
No funds that were raised for the family were placed directly into the Hortons’ hands.
Livesay acknowledges that financial missteps on the part of the couple helped put them in their current situation, and he said he has had “frank discussions” with them about that.
That’s why the ministry will maintain a lien on the mobile home title, as well as put a lien on the title of a van that was donated to the family, to ensure that they aren’t sold or mortgaged in the event of another financial crisis.