101-year-old sees wrong turned right

Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press

This week, she will make cookies in a brand-new kitchen.

This week, she will sit in a brightly painted living room.

This week, she gets her house back.

She never should have lost it.

After 101 years on this Earth, Texana Hollis deserved better than to watch from the street, in a wheelchair, as her possessions were stacked on the sidewalk like garbage.

But that is where she found herself last September, evicted from her home of nearly 60 years, after her son Warren failed to make tax payments.

Since then, this sweet, slight woman — who was born four years before the start of World War I — has been living with a caregiver, Polly Cheeks — a woman Texana once taught in Sunday school — hoping and praying her fates would change.

They have.

“You don’t know how happy you have made me,” Texana told us, a soft robe over her shoulders, a blanket on her lap. “I get my house back?”


“Lord, have mercy!”

That should have applied six months ago.

A ridiculous federal issue

Like many of you, I watched Texana’s story with dismay. How could a 101-year-old woman be evicted from anywhere?

After weeks of back-and-forth with the federal agency that took over the property — the Department of Housing and Urban Development — I offered to buy the house to return it to Texana. It’s something many Detroiters would have done. Only it wasn’t enough, HUD said. The house was unlivable and needed major work. OK, I said, we’ll get the work done.

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