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ASP dedicates first ‘New Build’ home

Appalachia Service Project held a dedication ceremony last week for the first home completed in the “New Build Northeast Tennessee 2014” campaign.
Through the new pilot program, ASP hopes to provide new homes for Washington County residents living in substandard conditions.
The home at 267 Arrowood Road was built for Jerry Haws, who was expected to move in over the weekend.
Haws lost most of what he owned when the log cabin he grew up in was condemned as unlivable after the Dry Creek flood in 2012. He didn’t apply for the first round of assistance, instead staying with friends. Since October 2013, Haws has lived on the Arrowood Road property in a temporary trailer with no running water.
His neighbors contacted local leaders for help, and the need was shared with ASP. “We received a phone call and met Jerry for an assessment,” said ASP Tri-Cities Program Director Tim Bomgardner. “He wasn’t expecting us to build.”
Bomgardner said the assessment of the living conditions are scored on a scale, and those with the greatest need rise to the top in terms of priority for who will receive assistance in repair or construction.
“This design is a two bedroom, one bath, and all of the appliances and furniture were donated,” he said.
Though Haws was not at the dedication ceremony, Bomgardner said he has toured his new home, commenting it is bigger than he had expected.
Two-thirds of the funding for construction was supplied by a grant from Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati. The matching funds for the Haws home were raised by Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Fla. Members from that congregation have volunteered with ASP for over 30 years, according to Bomgardner.
“We poured the foundation on Feb. 26, and after the Florida framing crew left, a group on spring break from Washington University in St. Louis pulled into town and began installing the siding,” he explained.
Local contractor Rick Gouge volunteered his services in directing the construction, with many of the volunteers being fellow members of Embreeville Church of Christ.
“It’s really neat to be standing here with (Aug. 3) being the two-year anniversary of the Dry Creek flood,” Mayor Dan Eldridge said. “There was a question of how much involvement would continue once it was not disaster-related, and we’ve seen people are willing to give their time, resources and finances.”
New Build Northeast Tennessee is an outgrowth of the partnership Washington County formed with ASP during the recovery effort that built almost 30 new homes for victims of the flash floods in Dry Creek.
ASP President/CEO Walter Crouch said the success of the Dry Creek project demonstrated the organization could build houses inexpensively using a combination of grants, private gifts and volunteer labor.
Washington County was recognized with an Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations last year for its unique approach to problem solving during the recovery effort, which did not qualify for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Association.
ASP took the leadership role in the rebuild effort of homes destroyed in Dry Creek, and is continuing to direct the New Build Northeast Tennessee program.
The organization plans to build two more new houses for Washington County residents this year, in addition to repairing almost 600 homes throughout Central Appalachia.
Each potential New Build home needs a $12,500 sponsor to match one third of the grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati. To complete the construction, ASP needs volunteers. “We encourage anyone age 14 or older to gather a group of friends and give some of their time to ASP,” Crouch said.
Since 2011, the number of Tennessee counties designated as financially distressed by the Appalachian Regional Commission has increased from nine to 16. ASP is responding by purchasing more building materials and recruiting more volunteers to help families have warmer, safer and drier homes.