Sherwood/Hiwassee homes will begin going up in next few weeks

Matthew Lane • Jul 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — After a few more months of delays, work to build 24 affordable homes in the Sherwood/Hiwassee area of town is expected to begin within the next couple of weeks, a HOPE VI official said this week.

For the second phase of the $30 million HOPE VI project, the city demolished 29 homes back in September along Sherwood and Hiwassee with plans to build back 24 new, affordable home ownership units — four a month — by September 2008.

The groundbreaking took place in February, but delays with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Walker Construction of Chattanooga pushed the project back a couple of months. At that time, the first homes were expected to come online in July with all being completed by the end of the year.

HOPE VI Director Doris Ladd said Walker Construction is expected to have five houses finished within 50 to 60 days with all being completed by the end of the year.

“The floor joints took a little longer to get here than expected. He had expected them to be here this week, but they didn’t come. But they have several foundations and footers ready to roll,” Ladd said. “A week (of weather) like this week could really change it, could start fooling around with (the timeline).

The Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority awarded the contract to build these new homes to Walker Construction of Chattanooga, which has done a HOPE VI project in the past. The houses along Sherwood and Hiwassee will be approximately 1,400 square feet and cost in the $130,000 range. They will be a story and a half, brick with vinyl siding in Colonial and Craftsman style, with three bedrooms, two baths and a storage unit in the back yard.

The homes were made available to the residents of Riverview first, then to residents of other public housing apartments and Section 8 homes, then to city and county residents and now, Ladd said, applications for the homes are open to the general public.

To apply to buy one of the houses, Ladd said the family has to meet two criteria: income cannot be more than 80 percent of the Average Median Income ($37,200 for a family of four and $29,750 for a family of two) and the family cannot have owned a house within the last three years.

“If they don’t exceed that and haven’t owned a home in the last three years, then they probably have a good chance to qualify for one of the homes. We still have to be concerned about their credit. If they have a few credit issues, we work with them to try and clear that up,” Ladd said. “Even if they have credit issues we keep them in the credit pipeline and urge them to work with us. If they don’t qualify for one of these homes because of their credit, we hope there are other opportunities to help them get into (a house).”

Ladd said the HOPE VI office has received 35 to 40 submissions for the houses along Sherwood and Hiwassee with seven to eight being pre-approved. Five of those will be going in for the official approved application next week.

Applications can be submitted at www.khraredevelopment.org/ hopevi or by the HOPE VI office on Martin Luther King Jr., Drive across from the V.O. Dobbins Community Center.

The HOPE VI project began more than two years ago when the city applied for a HOPE VI revitalization grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In October 2006, the city received $11.9 million in HOPE VI funds, and since then KHRA officials have been working on the project.

The entire HOPE VI project — both construction projects, the opening of the HOPE VI/Fresh Start office, and the purchase of property along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive — is estimated to cost at least $30 million. The $11.9 million grant is just part of the funding needed to complete the project.

The other major phase of the project is the demolition and replacement of Riverview Apartments with 32 homes (along with six additional houses in the South Central community). The demolition has occurred, but new home construction in the Riverview community will not begin until early 2009.

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