News : Juanita gets her SAHA house

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Juanita Segundo says she’s weary, but happy. On May 26, the West-Side resident bought her house from the San Antonio Housing Authority, ending a nine-month legal battle.

Last October, SAHA asked Segundo to sign a lease and begin paying $550 monthly rent on her house. Segundo fought the request because, she said, she owned the house, where she had lived for 35 years and raised her eight children. `See “Fallen through the cracks,” November 17-23, 2005.`

Segundo purchased the house in 1970, but through a series of complex financial snafus and the legal maneuvering of a money lender, she lost the title to the house and SAHA purchased it in 1993. Yet, Segundo said she and her family had provided maintenance and upkeep on the house for 12 years, during which time SAHA never asked for rent.

Last week, Segundo bought the house from SAHA for $14,000. “That wasn’t what I wanted,” she said. “They wouldn’t talk to me about giving it back. According to them, after years of not paying rent on the house, they figure I owe them $14,000. But at least I got the house back.”

Segundo’s contract with SAHA required her to take a homebuyers course through the ACORN that includes homeownership counseling, budgeting, and home maintenance. “The classes are really for first-time homebuyers,” Segundo laughs. “This is the third time I’ve bought this house, so I don’t think it’s the first time for me.”

“All of our homeowners have to complete a similar course,” said SAHA spokesman Mark Kinkade, adding that the housing authority is pleased to have reached an agreement. “It worked out for everyone concerned, so we gotta be happy about that.”

“My family is very happy,” said Segundo. “They didn’t want me to lose the house, and we’ve been fighting for so long it feels like a dream. I’m so weary, you know, I’ve been depressed and angry at times over this, and now all I have to do is pay for it again.

“And, if I don’t last 17 years,” she adds, laughing, “my son will take over the payments.”

Segundo says her family has added a ramp to the house — she’s currently confined to a wheelchair because of a car accident — but otherwise they don’t intend to make any structural changes; it’s back to business as usual. That includes resuming regular church meetings under the portico in Segundo’s front yard.

“We are going to have a victory campaign this weekend,” Segundo said, referring to the Memorial Day holiday. “There will be singing and music — oh yes, we’ll be having a good time.”

- Susan Pagani


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