- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2006

Gloria Brentley’s long struggle to keep her aging Bethesda house ended yesterday when Montgomery County replaced it with a new one and welcomed her home.

“This is such a big relief,” said Mrs. Brentley, 81. “Finally.”

Mrs. Brentley was forced from her home, which she has owned since 1954, after county officials said it was no longer safe.

However, they managed to find Mrs. Brentley temporary housing for about 21/2 years and rebuild her bungalow in the past four months through their Replacement Home Program.

The program was started in 1990 to help underprivileged and elderly residents who could not afford to repair their homes and is run by the county’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

“We have enough money to satisfy almost all of our low-income needs, so we essentially benefit almost everybody who applies, but the [people] with the lowest income with the highest occupant households will always be served first,” said Samson Awojoodu, a home rehabilitation specialist with the department.

Mr. Awojoodu also said the program rebuilds about three houses a year and renovates roughly 50 a year.

Mrs. Brentley said the problems with the house began when her husband died 20 years ago.

“Once something broke, it stayed broke,” she said.

The severely deteriorated interior and exteriors, combined with failed plumbing and electricity, forced crews to replace Mrs. Brentley’s house instead of renovating it, said Mary Anderson, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Health and Human Services.

She recalled a project several years ago involving an elderly Silver Spring woman that was even more challenging.

“The floor to the stairs was gone, and there was no way to get up to the second floor of the house,” she said. “Once we got up the second floor, there were holes in the floor and the bathtub had even fallen through the home.”

Mrs. Brentley will have to pay a monthly mortgage of $400 on the house, which is valued at $241,000, as part of the program. She bought the original house for less than $25,000.

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