Grant provides renovated homes for three Jellico residents

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By Beth Braden

Creaking floorboards, drafty doors and sagging roofs are no longer a reality for some Jellico residents thanks to Tennessee Housing Development Agency grants.

“The deed on the old house was dated 1900, and it was just old and it was running down,” said Doug Martin, a recipient of one of the homes.

He said parts of his old home were falling down around them, and he was forced to relocate his family, wife, Bobbi and their 11-year-old son.

“Foster Baird [former Jellico mayor], he’s the one that told me the county was getting grant money,” Martin said.

Last December, the Martins watched as their old home was leveled and the pile of debris was burned. Within weeks, the foundation of the new home was poured and construction began.

THDA was originally established in 1973 to assist very low-income families and disabled people find affordable housing. The HOME grant allows for renovation and reconstruction of dilapidated homes.

In the Martins’ case, they will need to stay in the house for 15 years, and after that they will own the two-bedroom home outright.

“All we have to do is live here for 15 years, keep it up and keep the taxes and everything paid up on it,” he said.

Across town, Ted Tye and his brother occupy their new home on the lot adjacent to the old home site.

“We were living in substandard housing,” he said.

Tye said his old home was “150 years too old.”

“It was just dilapidated. It was a matchbox getting ready to go up.”

Like the Martin home, Tye’s old home was also bulldozed and burned.

He and his brother now share their new two-bedroom home with an eat-in kitchen..

“We were lucky,” he said.

A third home was renovated thanks to the remaining $30,000 in grant money from Jellico and LaFollette.
Sam Farris has lived in Jellico all his life. His sister, Jo, an Ohio resident, is her brother’s keeper.

“I’m his guardian and the community looks out for him a lot,” she explained.

Farris’s three-bedroom home is in need of floor, roof and bathroom work.

“When my father died there was a lot of stuff that had been done prior to his death, and we just hadn’t had the funds to keep it going,” she said.

Work on his home should begin in the next few weeks before the weather gets too cold.

More information about the Tennessee Housing Development Agency can be found at www.thda.org.