HAZARD—As the year draws to a close, the Housing Development Alliance in Hazard gets closer and closer to its 200th house built in the 20 years since its inception. The alliance on Tuesday held an open house for two houses it just finished building in downtown Hazard.
“I’m just excited that I’m not paying rent to someone else, and it’s going to be my home; that’s the most exciting thing to me,” new homeowner Teresa Keith said, who moves into one of the neighboring houses situated on Memorial Drive across from the Pantry Shelf store on Thursday.
HDA Assistant Director Chris Doll said Keith’s house is No. 188 on their countdown to reach 200 houses this year, adding the alliance does not normally hold open houses for newly constructed homes.
“We just did these because one, they’re really cool, and two, they’re conveniently located, being right in town,” Doll said.
Doll explained the reason the houses were so “cool” was because of the site they had been built on, which had to have extensive work done before crews could even begin on the houses now standing there, including demolishing an existing house, building up the land by more than 25 feet from the creek, and leveling it off for two houses to fit with access to the road.
“It’s made a tremendous difference,” Keith said. “It looks so much better than it used to.”
With grants and funding elusive for non-profit organizations like the HDA, Doll said projects like this may become as elusive as the funding for them has been.
“We will always be able to build houses, but on this site with the challenges on the land and the demolition of the existing houses, it took a lot of special money and a lot of additional time and development to do it,” he said.
Doll said projects like the house raising the alliance is preparing for this weekend in the Brownsfork community of Perry County will always be doable because they require fewer funds since the land is already developed. And because these more expensive projects will be more difficult to fund in the future, Doll added he makes sure to appreciate the ones the HDA gets to finish for families such as Keith’s.
“It’s a huge accomplishment and it makes me feel good to have done it, but there is also a sort of sense of sadness,” he said. “These are special projects, so, it’s very cool to do it, but … I’m afraid that we’re not going to be able to do it in the future is all.”
Keith said she and her son, a freshman in high school, are extremely grateful that the alliance was able to help give them a place to call their own.
“We have a home that we’re not paying for electricity that’s going out the window. I’m just really excited that we actually got it and we’re here at the moving in stage,” she said.
Keith added that her new home, being situated in downtown Hazard on a very well-used street, does not only benefit her and her family.
“It’s helping the community as a whole, not only the people who are getting the houses,” she said. “It’s helping the community grow and look more appealing to outsiders.”