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Construction begins on Ms. Theresa’s historic Orlando home

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ORLANDO, Florida – Ms. Theresa DeFairia had been on a mission to save her historic home for nearly a year.

The timber frame house, built in 1940, is located on a quiet street on the border between the Callahan and Parramore districts.

“MS. Theresa”, as she is called by her loved ones, bought her house in 1989. A few years ago, however, it fell into disrepair when Ms. Theresa no longer paid the electricity bills.

Instead, Ms. Theresa said she used her Social Security income along with her adopted dog children to support themselves.

“To save my home, I lived outside,” Ms. Theresa told Spectrum News 13 last summer.

The Orlando city code enforcement team took note of the dire condition of the house last year and threatened to condemn it. But since then, community members have gathered and raised over $ 40,000 to date to restore the home.

Now the contractors are finally getting to work. The first step is the cancellation phase. After the structure of the house is exposed, engineers and contractors will evaluate the next steps. According to the contractors, the project will be completed in phases to keep structural repairs to a minimum.

“The key is keeping the floor plan as it is,” said Anthony Roy, owner of Orange Avenue Construction, the Casselberry-based company leading the construction project. “If we can do that, we can do it pretty easily.”

Roy, who specializes in restoring old houses, said Ms. Theresa’s home wasn’t a particularly difficult task. However, because it is done in phases, the entire project can take more than six months.

The grassroots team that have come together to help Ms. Theresa are still raising funds through GoFundMe.

The team said it will take at least another $ 80,000 to complete the project.

Roy said he couldn’t wait to see Ms. Theresa walk into her fully restored home for the first time.

“Someone who has lived in this house for so many years trying to bring you back to this house is going to feel good,” said Roy.

For her part, Ms. Theresa expressed deep gratitude for the fellowship that has come together to support her up to this point.

“It takes a village,” she said.

None of this would have been possible without faith, said Ms. Theresa.

“I can only say, stay tuned. Keep believing in me, ”said Ms. Theresa. “Keep believing in God and you. Because you believe in God, you believe in God. “

If you’d like to donate to the restoration project, you can visit the team’s GoFundMe.

Molly Duerig is a member of the Report for America Corps, a researcher on affordable housing for Spectrum News 13. Report for America is a not-for-profit national service program that places journalists on local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.

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Janet Smith