Oak Ridge and Anderson County have been added to a state blight elimination program that could allow the city to accelerate its efforts to remove blighted and abandoned homes and replace them with new affordable housing, or possibly green space. Loans of up to $25,000 per home are available.
The Blight Elimination Program allows qualified nonprofits and land banks, like the one in Oak Ridge, to apply for loans of up to $25,000 to acquire blighted, abandoned homes, demolish them, turn the property into green space, and maintain the vacant lots. The “greened” lots can then be turned into new affordable housing or converted into other uses meant to stabilize neighborhoods, with the uses approved by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency.
The $25,000 per demolition will be fronted by the THDA. The work could start with the Oak Ridge Land Bank Corporation, THDA Executive Director Ralph M. Perrey said during a Monday afternoon press conference in Oak Ridge. The press conference also included Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson, Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch, and Katie Moore, East Tennessee THDA representative.
The Blight Elimination Program has $10 million in funding available in Tennessee on a first-come, first-served basis. Much of it is likely to be used in Memphis in Shelby County, one of six other counties previously approved for the Blight Elimination Program, Perrey said.
But Memphis isn’t the only place that needs help, he said.
“I think a fair amount of that can be put to work here,” Perrey said in Oak Ridge on Monday. [Read more…]