JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A new Jacksonville group is making sure people who live on the historic Eastside do not have to give up their homes.
In half a year, LIFT JAX has begun repairing 23 homes that many families have lived in for generations. Walking down the street, you can tell there's a lot of history, but much of that history comes with old structures that badly need repairs.
"I could tell some stories about his house," said Bobby Graham. "I could tell some stories about me and this house."
Graham has lived on the Eastside all of his life.
"What they did to my home, I feel like I'm living in someone else's house, and I grew up here," he said.
Graham's house is one LIFT JAX is fixing up. They're mostly repairing roofs and floors and helping with weatherization.
"Some of the homes are built as early as 1900s and have had minimal repair," said Vice Chair of LIFT JAX Suzanne Pickett. "This area that we're in is the Campbell's Addition neighborhood, a very vibrant, thriving African American neighborhood. Again, some of these residents have been there, like Mr. Graham, their entire lives."
Graham says he used to be unhappy with his home.
"It was a dull house at the time," he said. "Now I am so happy with it. I feel more comfortable in it now. Before I was always aware of the leaks. And all the years that I bought kerosene, don't have to do it anymore."
At Graham's house LIFT JAX put in new floors, redid the walls, and put in central heating and air conditioning.
Graham says this doesn't only mean having his family visit for the holidays for the first time ever; it means knowing home is where he'll stay.
"People always trying to buy people out on the Eastside," he said. "I'm one for not selling my home. I grew up here. I live here and I'm not going anywhere. I'm gonna be here. This is my home. And I love it."
Six homes have been completed so far since LIFT JAX started this program in July.
Learn more about the Eastside Restore & Repair Program here.
The program is a joint effort between LIFT JAX, the Historic Eastside Community Development Corporation and Local Initiatives Support Corporation Jacksonville. Wells Fargo helped by funding the first few repairs.
LIFT JAX is working to raise $15,000 to continue restorations.