Group unveils plan to build 46 homes

Sue Guinn Legg • Sep 11, 2012 at 10:31 PM

Appalachia Service Project on Tuesday announced plans to build new houses for up to 46 Washington County families whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged in the Aug. 5 flooding in the Dry Creek community.

Tim Norton, chief advancement officer for the nonprofit home refurbishing ministry, said the $1.38 million “New Build Washington County” project will begin next month and continue for up to two years.

Using volunteer laborers recruited locally and from churches across the country, $20,000 grants available to the homeowners through a Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati disaster fund and $460,000 in private contributions to be raised by ASP, the ministry plans to invest $30,000 in the construction of each of the 046, 768-square-foot, three-bedroom, one-bath homes.

Norton said the Johnson City-based ASP ministry has so far received a $175,000 matching gift pledge from an ASP supporter in Connecticut who committed the funds to build 35 homes, and donations of $100,000 and $5,000 from two Johnson City area residents that will be used to match that gift.

The ministry is continuing work to raise the $70,000 needed to complete the gift match that will provide a total of $350,000 in private contributions. These funds will be used supplement the $20,000 grants to build the first 35 of 46 homes planned for construction. The remaining homes will be built as more funds come available.

“Through a generous grant of $20,000 per home from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati as well as an additional $10,000 per home that ASP is seeking to secure, these homes will be built at no cost to the homeowner,” Norton said.

Using the same model through which ASP has brought volunteer groups from churches from across the country to refurbish substandard homes in four central Appalachian states every summer since 1969, Norton said volunteers for New Build Washington County will come to Johnson City “from Maine to California, and Washington to Florida.”

Cherokee United Methodist Church, 2615 S. Roan St., will provide housing and meals for the volunteer groups during their one-week volunteer rotations. Additional volunteers will be recruited through the year-round ASP Tri-Cities project. Local contractor Ron Gouge will provide professional project managers to oversee the work at each of the construction sites, Norton said.

Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge said ASP President Walter Crouch told him soon after the flood that the ministry wanted to “take the lead” in the effort to help the flood victims rebuild and has since worked closely with the county to help coordinate the rebuilding effort while quietly raising donations for the project.

“When a community like Johnson City, the very one where we have our home office, is hurting and in need, ASP needs to be a resource of help and hope, the things we offer so well in our other programs,” Crouch said in the New Build Washington County announcement posted Tuesday on ASP’s website. “I’m really pleased to offer our expertise in deploying skilled volunteers and raising the necessary support that will give these families warm, safe and dry homes. The devastating loss of their home and possessions is beyond imagination,” he said.

More information about the ASP project, including an online donation link, is available at asphome.org or may be obtained by calling ASP at 854-4400 or 1-800-289-4254. Tax-deductible donations to Appalachian Service Project earmarked for “New Build Washington County” may be made by mail to ASP, 4523 Bristol Highway, Johnson City, TN 37601.

Meanwhile, the United Way of Washington County board of directors voted Monday to allocate $2,500 to the United Way Disaster Fund that was established the week following the flood to accept donations to provide materials for the rebuilding effort. The United Way fund has so far received $900 in private contributions. Donations to the United Way of Washington County earmarked for the Disaster Recovery Fund may by made online at www.unitedwayofwashingtoncountytn.org, or by mail to United Way of Washington County, P.O. Box 4039, Johnson City, TN 37602-4039.

Also on Monday, the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to work with the county on plans to move a small ranch home from the East Main Street site of the future Jonesborough Senior Center to benefit the flood victims if the town is unable to secure a purchase contract on the house before Sept. 30.

The federal Small Business Administration will continue registering flood victims for financial and volunteer assistance with home repairs and replacement through Oct. 15 at 1-800-877-2955 or online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Businesses and farmers who suffered damages in the flood are also encouraged to register for help.

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