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Mayor touts Community Development programs' achievements 
The City’s Community Development department capped off a busy Community Development Week with a breakfast spread, a speech from Mayor Rogero and enthusiastic testimonials from residents who have participated in three of the department’s programs. 

Mayor Rogero with CD program participants
From left: Jachai Brown, Brett Honeycutt, Community Development Director  Becky Wade, Monique Webb and Mayor Rogero. 

The Mayor highlighted a few of the department’s key programs, including the Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation program, which helps low- to moderate-income homeowners repair or replace their substandard homes and pay back the low-interest loans over time. In 2016, the housing division completed 19 owner-occupied rehabilitation projects, of which two were new construction replacement homes.

Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program participant Monique Webb spoke about her experience. The married mother of two teenagers expressed her excitement and appreciation for the renovations that will update her home with new windows, floors and kitchen cabinets. 

Brett Honeycutt stepped up to speak about how he and his partners have used Commercial Façade Grant funds to improve buildings and spur economic development on Sevier Avenue in South Knoxville (now home to Three Bears Coffee, Alliance Brewing, and 3G Studios) and on Broadway near Central, future home of Elkmont Exchange Brewery and Eating House. 

In 2016, the City invested $550,000 into 12 façade projects, which leveraged $1.2 million in private investment by the property owners. As a result, 157 new jobs were created, and 24 jobs were retained.

The event’s third guest, Jachai Brown, completed a construction training program for young people ages 16-24 conducted by Neighborhood Housing Inc. and partially funded by Community Development funds. 

Brown, 20, explained how he had moved from Milwaukee to Knoxville for educational and job opportunities. He left Hardin Valley Academy before graduating and worked several low-wage, unfulfilling jobs. 

“I didn’t have a future,” he said. Then his grandmother learned about NHI’s construction training program from a flyer in her neighborhood. He connected with recruitment coordinator Mike Jones and completed the 16-week program that covered safety practices, interview skills, construction math, carpentry work and hands-on experience building wheelchair-accessible ramps for low-income residents. 

“I would do it for free, just to see their faces,” Brown said. He’s currently studying for his high-school equivalency exam and is eager to pursue a career in carpentry. 

“This changed my life. I’m going to be somebody,” he said. 

During her remarks, Mayor Rogero told the group that all of the programs that receive federal funds through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and HOME grants are under threat of elimination in the proposed federal budget.

“This week I joined Mayors across the country asking Congress to ensure funding at current levels,” she said, adding that everyone in the room knew better than anyone that these programs work. 
She encouraged those assembled to share their support of Community Development grants with their U.S. senators and representatives. 
Posted by ptravis On 21 April, 2017 at 2:42 PM  

 
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