Gov. Bill Haslam has agreed to commit $500,000 of Appalachian Regional Commission funding to the pilot program, while THDA will match the state’s pledge with $1 million of its own funds in order to launch the program early next year.
The program will help patch roofs, fix wiring, update plumbing, and make other repairs for Appalachian families who cannot afford to bring their homes up to code on their own, according to THDA Executive Director Ralph Perrey.
“The Appalachian region includes some areas of Tennessee that are among the most difficult for state agencies to serve despite a high number of families in need,” Perrey said in a prepared release. “It’s important to be creative in order to reach these families, and this program provides us with a unique opportunity to meet that goal.”
This is the first time the state of Tennessee has committed a portion of its ARC funding to a THDA housing program. Under the program, state dollars will be dedicated to 12 so-called “distressed” counties as identified by ARC. The $1 million in THDA funding will be allocated in these areas along with 19 other counties identified by ARC as “at risk.”
Families in need of home repairs will be able to apply for financial assistance through a network of THDA-approved nonprofit partners, including a number of Federation of Appalachia Housing Enterprises affiliates. These partners will be responsible for approving, managing, and verifying all repair work.
“Homeownership in these counties is above the national average,” said Perrey. “However, the houses are considerably older than average, which makes repairs a more pressing concern, especially among families of low income.”
Whenever possible, program partners are encouraged to use local businesses to complete the home repairs. In this way, the program will help fuel economic activity and job creation in these communities, along with improving the health, safety, and quality of life for local families.
THDA will finalize additional details of the program once the nonprofit partners have been approved.
Distressed ARC counties in Tennessee include Bledsoe, Campbell, Cocke, Fentress, Grundy, Hancock, Johnson, Lewis, Pickett, Rhea, Scott, and Van Buren.
At-Risk ARC counties include Carter, Claiborne, Clay, Grainger, Greene, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Macon, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Overton, Polk, Unicoi, Union, Warren, and White.
For more go to www.thda.org.