The long white ramp leading up to the porch entrance of the home serves vital functions for homeowner John Bryson, Jr. For many years, John ran his own restaurant, but after a lifetime of hard work and medical issues, John had become disabled.
Without a house of his own when a long-term relationship ended, he knew he needed a home which would accommodate his mobility challenges, foster his lively, independent spirit, and enable him to care for his loved ones.
John, age 54, knew right where he belonged—in a rural town with his extended family nearby, on the empty lot that he already owned. “This is where I belong, where I want to be,” John said. “It means a lot to me.”
Pershing, Iowa, an unincorporated community in quiet Marion County, in the south central part of the state, held a lot of memories for him. His parents lived there. He thought about how they were getting older and needed him more than ever. Pershing is just down the road from Buxton, a coal-mining town abandoned for nearly a century. John is a descendent of black Americans who migrated there to work as coal miners.
“My grandpa worked in the coal mines, and the stories my grandma would tell us about the mines,” John reminisced. “The dangers!”
He decided to turn to Rural Development, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), for financing assistance when he settled on building a fully accessible, modern manufactured home on his lot.
“I really wanted to make this happen. My sister made a recommendation about which direction to go for this home build and purchase.”
Shelly Wendt, housing specialist, and Adriana Valencia, housing technician—both with USDA Rural Development—arranged a 502 Direct program loan for John.
“Anytime an issue came up in the process, Shelly was on it,” he stated. “No problem, she got things done. And Adriana, she helped. My sister helped, too, of course. With everyone’s help, I was able to get a new home on my own place that fit all my needs. I so appreciate them. I love my home, my kitchen. My relatives come over, and they use the ramp to come in. I go next door to check on my parents—I use the ramp. My home just works so well for all of us.”
The other vital function of the ramp and porch? “I go out there to smoke,” John said with a smile. “To smoke meats! I can keep doing BBQ, just like I used to do at my restaurant. Makes me feel good to be able to BBQ and use my smoker grill and my skills, no matter what the weather is like.”