On a nippy but sunny Tuesday afternoon, officials of Eastern Eight Community Development Corporation announced plans to revitalize a blighted section of Highland with the help of a grant from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, which provided the last piece of the funding puzzle.
The $500,000 Housing Trust Fund grant and other funding, $1.4 million all told, will be used by Eastern Eight to tear down the three blighted buildings and replace them and the empty lot with the townhouse development. Eastern Eight also plans additional property rehabilitation in the neighborhood.
The funding was one of five Housing Trust Fund grants totaling more than $2.27 million recently awarded to projects statewide by the THDA. The Keystone Development in Johnson City also received funding.
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“Projects like this one being carried out by Eastern Eight make a positive impact on the neighborhoods they are located in by providing much-needed affordable housing,” THDA Executive Director Ralph M. Perrey said in a news release.
Eastern Eight Executive Director Retha Patton and Katie Moore, East Tennessee THDA liason, during a news conference at 2209 E. Center St., one of the buildings to be demolished for the project, said the nonprofit worked closely with Kingsport officials to focus on areas of the city that were in need of blight elimination. Following the news conference, Patton said that plans are for demolition work to be carried out in January and February, after asbestos testing is done and city demolition permits are obtained. Construction, which will take about six months, should start in March, she added.
“The city of Kingsport identified this key location as a targeted, blighted area for redevelopment,” Patton said in the release. “We are so excited to finally be able to begin this project and, working closely in partnership with the city of Kingsport, to provide much-needed affordable housing units within the city and assisting with redevelopment efforts.”
Patton said the dozen townhouse units will consist of a mix of two- and three-bedroom apartments. All units in the development will also be energy efficient in an effort to control utility costs for tenants, she added. In addition to removing blighted structures, Patton said, the development will also include features designed to strengthen the sense of community for residents who live there.
“The city is partnering with the project to provide a unique water-holding cistern covered by a previous surface to accommodate a parking area, along with a hand pump to allow access to water from the cistern for tenant usage for planned raised bed community gardens on site,” Patton said.
In addition to the THDA, Patton said other partners in the project include the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati and their member bank Bank of Tennessee, as well as the Northeast Tennessee/Virginia HOME Consortium. Aside from the $500,000 from THDA, another $600,000 comes from the Federal Home Loan Bank through Bank of Tennessee and $100,000 from the HOME Consortium. The remaining $200,000, basically debt to be repaid over time, comes through the Bank of Tennessee and Eastern 8, said Steve Dixon, who is Eastern 8 board chairman and works for Bank of Tennessee.
The Housing Trust Fund (HTF) was created by the THDA Board of Directors to provide financial support for innovative, affordable initiatives that serve the housing needs of Tennessee’s must vulnerable residents. Funding for HTF comes entirely from earnings generated through the THDA’s Single Family Mortgage program. HTF grants are awarded through a competitive application process. Since 2006, the THDA has provided more than $60 million in HTF grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations across the state.
As the state’s housing finance agency, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) is a self-sufficient, independently funded, publicly accountable entity of the state of Tennessee. Its purpose is to meaningfully expand safe, sound, affordable housing opportunities for low and moderate income Tennesseans. More information about THDA can be found online at THDA.org.