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The Hope Building house in Emmalena features a cathedral ceiling and a two-car garage, among other desirable home features.

Last month, participants of the Hope Building program completed construction of the program’s first house. The house, located in the Emmalena community of Knott County, is the product of several months of hard work and patient learning, as six trainees leading lives in recovery were trained by HDA’s professional carpenters on how to build a home from start to finish.

Hope Building, created by the Housing Development Alliance last year, is a paid, on-the-job training program in construction for men and women in recovery. Trainees are referred to the program by the Hickory Hill Recovery Center and the Perry County Drug Court. Upon completion of the program, trainees leave with a solid work reference and course certificates from Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC).

“(Recovery) is kind of like the rough part of framing,” said David Partin, one of Hope Building’s trainees. He continued, “Nothing is perfect. As long as you’re within a quarter of an eighth of an inch, put a nail in it. It’s going to work out, it’s going to be okay. That’s like life. It’s not the end, if you have time to put something back together. Just take it a piece at a time.”

Partin, along with other trainees of the program, said the program was beneficial and completing the construction of the house really helped make them feel accomplished.

“Anybody can use a hammer and a nail,” said Partin. “But when it gets to the cut-work, the sheeting, the flooring — when you get right down to what all goes into a house and you do it all, it’s really a big feeling to achieve something like that.”

Partin, who recently completed the program, has now been hired full-time as a monitor at Hickory Hill, where he will mentor other men in recovery. It’s an outcome that HDA officials see as the end goal of this unique program.

“Just like a good home is crucial to success in life, a dependable job has been proven to be a key element in sustaining a life in recovery,” said HDA Executive Director Scott McReynolds. “The Hope Building program gives us the opportunity to help shape the futures of men and women in recovery by teaching them skills that will help reintroduce them to the workforce. At the same time, they’ll be giving back to the community by helping us build 15 homes for folks who really need them.”

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The Hope Building program trainees stand on the porch of the program’s first completed home.

As the Hope Building houses are finished, they will be sold on the open market. That means, said HDA representatives, that unlike other homes built by HDA, which typically sells houses to low-income individuals and families, the 15 homes built by Hope Building can be purchased by anyone with the means to do so.

“Funding for this program is provided by a three-year POWER grant,” McReynolds said.

McReynolds said that selling the houses on the open market will allow the program to continue for years.

“The selling of these homes will help us sustain the program beyond the life of the grant,” he said.

This Hope Building home features amenities such as a two-car garage, a cathedral ceiling, a back deck and more. Like all HDA-built homes, the house is Energy Star-certified, which means that the homeowner will pay half of what homeowners of standard-built homes pay on utility costs, said officials with the organization. The home is available for scheduled viewings, and on Wed., March 25, the HDA will hold an Open House Celebration at the home from noon to 2 p.m. for those in the community who’d like to see the house, meet the Hope Building trainees and to learn more about the program.

Attendees will also be able to see for themselves the progress made by the trainees, who are now building their second house in the Christopher community of Perry County. Those interested can also follow coverage of the program’s progress on the HDA’s Facebook page.

Lora Smith, executive director for the Appalachia Impact Fund (AIF), which provided a generous program-related investment (PRI) to Hope Building, said the program is addressing “an intersection of issues.”

“Hope Building is an example of an Appalachian ingenuity that turns challenges into opportunities with a holistic approach to community health and healing,” said Smith. “We are excited to see HDA’s continued impact and success providing meaningful work for Eastern Kentuckians, while also addressing our affordable housing needs and offering a pathway for community members who have struggled with substance use disorder.”

Hope Building’s first single-family home, located at 210 Easy Street in Emmalena, is currently for sale. The home is listed on Zillow, Trulia and Craigslist, where photos and more details are provided. All inquiries, including house details and requests for home tours, can be directed to Hope Building Program Director Scottie Cornett by calling, (606) 436-0497, or by emailing, scottie@housingdevelopmentalliance.org.