Evicted centenarian who got home back in 2012 dies

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DETROIT (AP) — Texana Hollis, a Detroit centenarian who got her home back in 2012 after being evicted because of foreclosure, has died. She was 103.

Hollis died Dec. 31, according to James H. Cole Home for Funerals, which is handling arrangements. Deborah Hollis-Coburn told The Detroit News that her grandmother died of natural causes in Detroit. Her health had deteriorated in late 2013.

“It meant a lot to her to have the community surround her and support her and love her,” Hollis-Coburn, told the Detroit Free Press. “She never expected anything from anybody. She was very, very grateful.”

Hollis was evicted in September 2011 after her son failed to pay property taxes linked to a reverse mortgage. Two days later, a federal agency said the 101-year-old could return but then blocked her from moving in after an assessment determined the house was dilapidated.

Hollis’ eviction drew wide attention. Free Press columnist Mitch Albom and his charity stepped in, and persuaded volunteers and businesses to do the same. They fixed up the home where she’d spent six decades of her life and in April 2012 she moved back in.

“God bless everyone who had a hand in this,” Hollis said when she returned home.

Albom and his charities helped renovate Hollis’ house after buying it from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Albom spent $30,000 — much of it out of his own pocket — on the project, and more than 100 volunteers spent months putting in new flooring, drywall, appliances and even a portion of the roof.

“Texana was a wonderful woman who inspired everyone she met,” Albom said.

Hollis’ son took out the reverse mortgage for the $32,000 assessed value of the property, an option that HUD permits for the elderly. HUD took control of the mortgage after the amount paid to the family exceeded the value of the house in 2006.

Hollis was a longtime member of St. Philip’s Lutheran Church in Detroit, where she taught Sunday school. A Jan. 25 service is planned at the church, followed by burial at Roseland Park Cemetery in suburban Detroit. Visitation is Jan. 23 and 24 at the funeral home.

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