JCHA Executive Director Richard McClain said contractors have been working nights, weekends and through the rain to keep the $14 million project on track.
“The goal is to get it built by the end of this year. We want to be mostly done by fall,” he said. It’s somewhat delayed by rain. We had some poor soils and rocks that caused a lot more excavation than we anticipated. But it’s moving along nicely now and all the foundations are poured.
“They’ll be working every day in the rain until it stops raining, weekends, nights. They’ve worked some nights pouring concrete and they have more they need to pour. We have some framing done. We are also building a community building that will house the Human Development Agency Head Start program and give it room to expand from one classroom to two.”
In addition to the 5,000-square-foot community building, McClain said the project includes five, two- and three-story apartment buildings for a total of six new buildings going up at Dunbar.
When complete the new units will be converted from public housing to HUD assisted (Section 8) rentals that will not only be managed by JCHA, but for the first time also owned by the Housing Authority.
The conversion is part of a national public housing transition initiated by HUD to benefit housing authorities by allowing them to use their properties as collateral for capital improvements and to benefit renters by allowing them to use their Section 8 eligibility anywhere in the country.
The Dunbar rebuild is also part of a larger plan to replace nearly 250 Johnson City Authority units that are now more than 60 years old and to renovate and update 300 additional aging units.
McClain said renovations were recently completed on 96 units at JCHA’s Pinecrest community, where the Section 8 conversion will become effective April 1. And in the coming year, 50 units in the Parkway Community adjacent to Dunbar will be renovated and converted to Section 8.
With the completion of the Dunbar rebuild, McClain said demolition and reconstruction of JCHA’s Fairview community will be next in line. Work to secure financing for the Fairview rebuild is now underway.
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