Army veteran receives new home from NeighborWorks Columbus Cottage program

Retired Staff Sgt. Joseph Hubanks was being presented a new home Wednesday and as the crowd gathered for the ceremony, he stood on the street playing with his Dachshund named Pepper.

“She’d normally be barking like crazy,” he said of the dog. “Today, she’s speechless, just like me.”

Hubanks, 83, a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, was presented the keys to his new house on Rochester Avenue in Columbus. It is the third such home presented by the NeighborWorks Columbus Cottage Program.

“This is really nice,” he said of the two-bedroom house, which soon will be filled with all new furniture.

The house stands in the same location where he has lived for 30 years. His previous house had a leaky roof, which had led to corrosion of the main beams and sinking floors. Exposed electrical wires were extremely dangerous.

That house was torn down in July. Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington was on hand for the demolition, even spending some time on the bulldozer. He was at the ceremony Wednesday.

“This is a great event,” Wetherington said. “There is no higher calling than when you can help people who need help and when you can enhance the quality of people’s lives.”

The city government, through a federal subsidy program, participates in the program matching funds with those that have been donated. The program helps senior citizens who can no longer maintain their homes due to limited income.

“We have a public-private partnership in Columbus that can’t be matched anywhere,” Wetherington said.

Cathy Williams, CEO and President of NeighborWorks and at-large member of the Muscogee County School Board, said it was a “special day” because the community was getting to help a veteran. She called Hubanks an inspiration.

She said that even in tough economic times local people and businesses were eager to help with the project.