MOUNT CARMEL — The Mt. Carmel Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously voted at their recent meeting to accept the policies and procedures for a $250,000 HOME Grant from THDA (Tennessee Housing Development Agency) that is intended to restore damaged low-income homes in the community.
“Included in these policies and procedures is a metric for scoring based on income, people in the household, general condition of the household, value of the property and value of the home,” explained City Manager Mike Housewright at the meeting.
He went on to explain that the grant will not require any out-of-pocket costs for the city. Though the aldermen must vote to adopt the policies and procedures in order for the town to receive the program benefits, all of the program specifics are determined by THDA.
“We have no latitude on how we do this,” Housewright said. “Furthermore, we will not actually be administering this grant. It comes through us, but FTDD (First Tennessee Development District) actually will be the one that does the legwork. All questions and all public input will pass through FTDD. Obviously, we do not want to be fielding questions or having relatives contact us and say ‘my aunt so-and-so has this need.’ They (FTDD) can be an impartial body that makes this decision based on these metrics and not be subject to political pressure.”
FTDD, which is based in Johnson City, is a regional association of the local governments of Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties in Northeast Tennessee, as their website explains. They “represent a cooperative approach for making federal, state and local governments within the region stronger and more efficient partners.”
“People who are interested in receiving this grant will not be going through City Hall to receive it — they will be going through FTDD,” Housewright explained.
As one of the first steps towards implementing this program, FTDD will soon hold a town hall meeting where they will explain what is available through the program, field questions and outline the application process. Information on the program can currently be obtained from City Hall, but the date for the town hall meeting has not yet been determined.
In most cases, people who are eligible to receive these services will have improvements made to their existing home; however, Housewright explained that there have been situations in the past where it was more financially feasible for the First Tennessee Development District to actually demolish a house and rebuild.
“This is good for people here,” Alderman Carl Wolfe said of the program. “It will help a lot of people in the community.”