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Adequate housing fundamental to NE Tennessee’s success

Johnson City Press • Jan 4, 2019 at 7:15 AM

One had lost her previous home to a fire.

Some owned houses that needed more repairs than the cost of building a new home.

Others were renters without means of ever becoming first-time home owners.

What they all had in common was that “they really couldn’t afford adequate houses.”

Those were the words Appalachia Service Project CEO Walter Crouch used Monday to describe the six families his organization recently aided with new homes in the Tri-Cities area. As Staff Writer Sue Guinn Legg reported, ASP closed out 2018 by dedicating recently completed houses — two in Johnson City, one in Jonesborough and three in Bristol.

ASP’s home replacement initiative was sparked by the floods that washed out much of the Dry Creek community south of Johnson City in 2012. Made possible by the financial support of ASP’s partners and contributors and the hard work of volunteer builders, the homes come mortgage free for qualifying families. The group plans to build dozens of new homes in the year ahead, including 22 in nearby Hancock and Sevier counties and up to 50 in flood-ravaged sections of West Virginia.

The goal? To help multiple generations escape the grip of poverty.

ASP and other organizations dedicated toward similar outcomes have our gratitude, They also have their work cut out for them.

As Legg and other news staff members here have reported over the last two years, the region faces a crisis-level shortage of low-income housing.

Housing is a linchpin of human existence — others being sustenance, income and connectivity — and when any of those break down, suffering is inevitable at individual, familial and societal levels.

Much has been said in recent months about the economic development needs of the greater Tri-Cities area and the newfound resolve to keep the region competitive for jobs. The pillars of those efforts include education, workforce development, infrastructure, marketing and recruitment.

Full success, though, will not come without specific attention to human capital. A region must meet basic needs if it is to shine.

The efforts of ASP, Keystone Development Inc., Appalachian Opportunity Fund and similar organizations are key to that end, and they should be full partners in our economic development surge.

For ways you can help Appalachia Service Project, visit the organization’s website at www.asphome.org/donate/.

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