Ward, 64, moved into her home on Bayou Street in Shaw in 1991, but the eventual failing of the structure made it unlivable — a painstaking experience in the household where she raised eight children.
"It was really scary. I didn't know when the roof was going to cave in," she said. "It's been really rough, but I'm ready to be coming home soon."
Thanks to grant funding from the Mississippi Development Authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ward is the first of three Bolivar County homeowners who will have their households completely rebuilt.
A fire in 2002 damaged a good portion of the house and her late husband didn't have a chance to repair everything before he became sick and died in 2004.
The roof and ceiling began to leak and sag, the floors were unstable, the bathroom and kitchen were giving in and the pipes kept bursting.
"It just wasn't safe," said Ward. "It's going to be a glorious day when they finally hand me the keys to my new house,"
Ward and one of her daughters have been living together at an apartment in Indianola since 2010, when the worst conditions reached a peak.
Her house will be demolished on Monday, something Ward is "still rejoicing about on the inside."
The contractor for the reconstruction has 60 days to provide the family with a sparkling new home.
The funding comes from the Home Investment Partnerships Grant Program for Homeowner Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Projects, which provides assistance to families that need major repairs at their homes.
Bolivar County will receive $300,000 in funding for three homes thanks to Bolivar County Administrator Will Hooker's tireless effort to draw in the money.
One homeowner from Cleveland and one from Duncan make up the two other recipients.
Hooker confirmed the award at the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors meeting on Dec. 4, 2012.
"We are very grateful to receive money that will go a long way in bringing three new homes to the county," said Hooker. "Thanks to the assistance of attorney John Cox we were able to get over the final legal issues before the grant was awarded.
"It's been around 8-10 years since we last received this grant, so we're very excited to move forward, get these houses done and reapply for more money."
There are strict guidelines for grant eligibility, including complete ownership of the house, the home must be in dire need of repairs and the homeowner must be in a low-income financial bracket.
Hooker said receiving the money is a very competitive process because applicants come from across Mississippi.
"There are a lot of deserving people in Bolivar County but the process is extremely competitive," added Hooker. "This is why it's imperative we complete these houses efficiently and continue to be competitive with our applications."
Awarded money can be used by municipalities, counties and relevant non-profits to assist the eligible homeowners — these entities often apply on behalf of the homeowners.
The funds are applied for annually, but the entire process of completing the paperwork and rebuilding the home can take a couple years to complete.
Ward began her application in 2010 and has been receiving guidance from Hooker ever since.
"Mr. Hooker has helped me get through so much," said Ward. "He's been there to help with all the paperwork and answer all my questions. I'm so grateful that he continues to stand by me."
"This is not an instant process but the wait is well worth it," said Hooker. "It's a blessing that this will be taking place for three Bolivar County homes.
"The board of supervisors is thrilled and excited. It's a great way to start 2013."
Decent, safe, sanitary and affordable housing is the ultimate goal of the HOME project. In just a couple months, Ward and her family will be able to reap the benefits.
"I believe my husband will be very happy watching down on us," said Ward. "It's going to be great having family come here to laugh and think about old memories."