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Miss Naomi's Neighborhood Notes

You might recall that I mentioned in an earlier column that I inherited my home from my great-aunt Susan. I would like to tell you about her experience.

My aunt and uncle purchased their first home in Savannah in the late 1940's or so. Uncle Will worked for the railroads, and they purchased a house on Rockefeller Street. I have memories of perching on a bar stool in the kitchen, helping tend to a pot while my uncle puttered out back in the yard.

In the late 1970's, homeowners in their neighborhood received offers from HUD to buy their homes to make room for additional affordable housing. And so, with the blessing of their pastor (Rev. Mathew Southall Brown Sr. of St. John's Church) and everyone they knew, they accepted the financial deal. Pastor Brown helped them to find and buy another home (in Midtown, the one where I still live). And even after paying off their first house and buying the new one, they still had money left in the bank.

But it was not as easy as all that. When the day came that they were to move, Aunt Susan refused. As the oldest grandchild in the family, she relied on me, and told the agent that she wouldn't move without my say-so. Well, I don't know that I told them different than anyone else - they had sold the home and bought a new one, and the family was all there ready to help them move. But you can understand why an older person wouldn't want to leave the house after living there 35 years!

They did move to the new house. In a storm sometime after the move, my uncle wandered out and we couldn't find him. He was found...back at the old place on Rockefeller Street. He died not long after that. It was hard to be away from his home, that he had bought himself.

Houses hold our hearts, and the memories we have there of the people whose love brings us up. My aunt helped raise my mother. And me. And then, at the end, well, she was amazed that the child in the crib was now tending to her. She died without a will, and it took me some time before I was ready to go to a lawyer and file all the papers to all her heirs to agree that we should take her name off the deed of this house and put mine on there. It was her house-- her new one, that she had only lived in for a while. And it was to be mine? All my relatives agreed. Those who lived nearby saw how I had cared for my aunt Susan. But it still was hard.

I do have a will, and you need one too to ensure that your property stays in the family. And I hope we all remember that a home is more than just an investment.

CHSA encourages all property owners to retain their rights. In many cases, it is possible to return a vacant property back into an asset as rental property or to retain a home for family use. Use the link below to contact Georgia Legal Services about a family property or about your will.

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