By Dave Ongie, News Editor
Representatives from the Johnson City Housing Authority held a ceremony last Thursday afternoon to break ground on a new public housing project that will be called Watauga Court.
Construction crews will soon begin work on the first eight units of what will eventually be a 16-unit development that will house homeless youth aging out of the foster care system and disabled, elderly or veteran clients. Richard McClain, Executive Director of the JCHA, said the new units will closely resemble a recently completed complex at Baker Street that contains 24 one-bedroom dwellings for veterans and teens aging out of foster care.
The $1.3 million project was made possible through a $500,000 grant from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and a pair of matching $400,000 grants provided by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta.
Locally, the Bank of Tennessee and HomeTrust Bank worked together to help facilitate the matching $400,000 grants. Corey Webb, HomeTrust’s Tri-Cities Market President, noted that while bankers tend to get along after business hours, but things tend to be highly competitive during business hours.
Webb added that he took pride in the fact that HomeTrust and the Bank of Tennessee were able to put aside that spirit of competition to help the JCHA complete a project that will better the community.
“The partnership with HomeTrust and the partnership that has existed with the Bank of Tennessee, the Housing Authority has the opportunity to go to both home loan banks for support with projects like this,” added Freddie Malone, a commercial relationship manager at HomeTrust. “So I think that’s neat, and we’re glad to be a part of it.”
Watauga Court is the first phase of a complete overhaul of the Fairview Public Housing community. McClain said the new construction will eventually cover a 9-acre site straddling East Watauga Avenue near the intersection of Steel Street. Grant applications to fund the rest of the Fairview rebuild will be filed in the spring.