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Funds will help renovate substandard homes in Hawkins

Wes Bunch, Community Contributor • Jul 15, 2016 at 1:56 PM

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency has awarded a pair of HOME program grants totaling $750,000 that will be used to bring as many as two dozen substandard homes back up to code in Hawkins County.

The HOME program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered in part in Tennessee by the THDA. Hawkins County was awarded $500,000 in HOME program funds during the spring 2016 competitive grant round, while the town of Surgoinsville received a $250,000 HOME grant. The maximum amount that THDA is allowed to grant within a single county is $750,000.

“These HOME program funds can really do a lot of good work in places like Hawkins County and Surgoinsville,” THDA Executive Director Ralph M. Perrey said. “Homes need maintenance over time, and these grants will help fund repairs that might not have been made otherwise.”

Hawkins County officials plan to use the funds to renovate a total of 16 single-family homes located within its jurisdiction.

“I am extremely excited and grateful that Hawkins County was chosen to receive the THDA HOME grant in the amount of $500,000,” said Hawkins County Mayor Melville Bailey. “This will be an excellent opportunity for some of our less fortunate citizens to improve their living conditions and quality of life.”

Surgoinsville will rehabilitate as many as eight homes. Both projects will benefit very-low and low income individuals who do not have the financial resources to make much needed improvements to their residences.

“There are plenty of people in our town that could use some help when it comes to making repairs to their homes,” Surgoinsville Mayor Merrell Graham said. “So we’re just pleased to get this grant and glad that we’ll be able to help people here that need it.”

The county and town will hold public meetings in the coming months to outline application procedures and grant guidelines. Once applications are received, a priority list will be formed based on the level of rehabilitation work required as well as each applicant’s socioeconomic factors. Homes that cannot be brought up to code will not be considered for the project.

The First Tennessee Development District was chosen to administer both programs under policies and standards established by the county and town. Each home selected will receive up to a $40,000 subsidy for rehabilitation that will bring it up to code. Financial assistance for home repairs will be provided to those selected for the program in the form of a deferred grant that is forgivable at 20 percent per year if the family remains in compliance.

HOME grants must be used for the production, preservation, or rehabilitation of affordable housing for low and very-low income families and individuals.

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