The Tennessee Housing Development Agency has awarded Appalachia Service Project a $500,000 Challenge Grant for the estimated $6 million construction of a 200-bed dormitory and additional warehouse space at its Johnson City headquarters.

The project is part of an major expansion of ASP’s local year-round program for Tri-Cities area homeowners who cannot afford repairs needed to make their homes “safer, warmer and drier” — a service ASP has been providing in rural mountain communities since 1968.

The new dormitory will be built at ASP’s current Bristol Highway location and will house church groups from across the eastern United States who will come here to volunteer in ASP’s home repair and rebuild programs.

In addition to the dormitory, the facility will include a commercial kitchen to accommodate up to 200 people, separate living space for families displaced during home replacements and a multi-use space for staff training and construction training.

THDA Industry and Government Affairs Liaison Katie Moore ceremonially presented the grant to ASP at the nonprofit housing ministries’ 50th anniversary dinner Friday night at the Millennium Center.

Moore said THDA awards the “three-to-one” Challenge Grants at the milestones of its home building partners to provide a fundraising springboard for their future projects. The grant will require ASP to raise $1.5 million in private donations to secure the full $500,000 in grant funding.

ASP CEO Walther Crouch said ASP will use the grant as seed money for construction of its new regional hub and expressed confidence the fundraising challenge will be met.

“We’re well on our way,” he said before Friday night’s dinner. “Since we got it, there’s been excitement among the people who knew about it and there will be more excitement tonight as more people find out about it. We’re excited for the opportunity.

Crouch said said ASP is thankful for THDA’s support. “THDA has been a good partner for us since the flood in Dry Creek when we first began building houses. They helped us again in the Gatlinburg after fires when we built more houses. And now helping us again with this seed money.”

“What this really means for a lot of people is better homes,” Crouch said.

Friday’s grant presentation followed THDA’s recent award of separate $500,000 that will expand ASP home repair and home replacement programs into Hancock County beginning next year.

Crouch said the grant will allow ASP to rebuild 11 homes in Hancock County in 2019 and will be renewable annually so that additional homes may be built in that county in the future.

While proceeds from Friday night’s $100 per plate dinner will go toward the new fundraising challenge, ASP will treat the community to a free day of fun and fellowship today as the anniversary celebration continues at ASP’s warehouse and offices at 4523 Bristol Highway.

Crouch said the daylong roster of activities is entirely free and everyone is invited. The day will begin with pastries and coffee at 9:30 a.m. followed by a celebration worship service in the ASP warehouse.

Lunch will be served at noon under a tent the warehouse parking lot and will be followed by tours, children’s activities, hand and power tool skill challenges for teens and adults, wall building for ASP homes and more.

The day will conclude with a mini-concert in the ASP warehouse featuring the American folk group Alathea, starting at 3:30.

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