As the project moves along, members of the Housing Development Alliance (HDA) are preparing to begin the second phase of the major redevelopment project in the Allais community. Recently, the City of Hazard completed its portion of the project alongside H.A. Spalding Engineers, and the land is ready to be transferred to the HDA for the construction of 15 new houses on the property.
“The city was able to get a large CDBG grant, which is what paid for the property at Allais and the demolition of the old strip mall there,” said HDA Executive Director Scott McReynolds. “They’ve recently finished developing the land by putting in and paving a road and installing water and sewer lines.”
Now, McReynolds said, the city is ready to transfer the land to the HDA so that it can start constructing the 15 new houses on the property, which will be the first major new subdivision in Hazard in decades.
“It’s amazing to see the transformation,” McReynolds said. “Before the city got to work, this was an abandoned piece of land, and the strip mall that was there was full of graffiti and was just trashed. It wasn’t a good place for the community. But now, when you see how beautiful and green it is, you forget about all of that.”
Representatives of the HDA said the city’s land redevelopment project at Allais cost $750,000, and the HDA’s part of the project will cost approximately $1.8 million. Each of the houses being built at Allais will be sold for approximately $120,000 to low-income families, said the HDA.
“There are so few houses in this area that are built and sold for less than $200,000-$250,000,” said McReynolds. “So many folks in our area want to be homeowners but can’t afford to buy homes at those prices on the salaries they make. It’s hard to afford a house when you’re making $10 to $12 an hour. This project gives us an opportunity to build 15 affordable houses for families in Perry County.”
Once the transfer of the property is made final, the HDA will begin building the houses sometime in January.
“We’ve already pre-sold eight of the homes to families who have qualified for our Homeownership Program,” said McReynolds. “That means we still have seven lots available, and we’re receiving a large amount of applications for home ownership. We encourage anyone who is interested in living at Allais to apply.”
As a nonprofit, McReynolds explained, HDA receives state and federal funding to provide affordable housing to qualifying individuals and families, which means that those who apply for housing through HDA must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible for the agency’s program. While not every applicant is eligible for assistance, the agency’s ability to offer affordable housing is crucial in a region that has historically struggled economically.
“If you drive by and look at an HDA home, every one that I’ve ever seen is taken well care of and the people who live in them have jobs, they pay their taxes, and they’re proud of their homes,” said Hazard Mayor Donald “Happy” Mobelini. “HDA does a tremendous job for people in housing, and that’s one of the biggest weaknesses in eastern Kentucky — and I especially deal with it as a high school principal with kids who are experiencing homelessness — is affordable housing.”
The new subdivision at Allais will create 15 new homeowners in Hazard, and each family will have received Housing Counseling from HDA, which McReynolds said prepares them to own, maintain and manage their homes successfully.
The new community, which has been designed by H.A. Spalding Engineers, is called Gurney’s Bend, named in honor of acclaimed Appalachian writer and Hazard native, Gurney Norman, who spent many years growing up in Allais and has written about the area and spoken about it often. McReynolds said that Norman has been informed of this plan and is greatly humbled by it. Once the pandemic is over and conditions are deemed safe again, McReynolds said the agency plans to have a special event in Allais and hopes to include the Norman family. The community will be invited to see the progress made on the homes in the new subdivision.
HDA is offering various choices in home design at Allais, including the unveiling of a few new floor plans, including one designed by McReynolds himself called “The Cottage.” This house plan will offer a new look for an HDA single-family home and features three bedrooms and one bathroom, with an open floor plan and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom.
Gurney’s Bend is part of HDA’s push to serve 1,000 families over the next 10 years, said HDA officials. “It took us 25 years to serve our first 1,000 families,” McReynolds said. “To equal that number in 10 years means we’re going to have to work extremely hard to increase our production levels from year to year. But that’s what families need from us here.
“The work HDA does for these families is not possible without grants and our donors and funders, and we’re going to need more donors and funders to help us serve all of those families,” added McReynolds.
To find out more about the Housing Development Alliance and to support this and other projects, visit, www.hdahome.org. Those interested in applying for home ownership may call HDA at, (606) 436-0497.