Last updated: July 18. 2013 11:04PM - 179 Views
Cris Ritchie

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HAZARD – A local nonprofit organization this week was the recipient of a statewide award for ongoing work in helping low-income families in Eastern Kentucky gain access to affordable housing.

It was during the Kentucky Affordable Housing Conference in Louisville that the Housing Development Alliance (HDA) was presented with the Nonprofit Affordable Housing Builder Award for 2012. The award recognized the Alliance’s efforts in building affordable housing for residents in Eastern Kentucky, as well as performing repairs on existing housing for low-income families.

In 2011, the Alliance, headquartered in Perry County, built 20 new houses for families in Perry, Knott, Breathitt and Leslie counties, and completed $500,000 worth of repairs on 35 additional homes. Through the HDA’s efforts, families moving into these new homes can also gain access to affordable financing that will allow them to become homeowners in the process.

The HDA was formed in 1993, and Executive Director Scott McReynolds has been with the organization since early on. Last year, he noted, was the most productive of the HDA’s 19-year existence, though he expects that their production will increase by 20 percent in 2012 as they’re aiming to complete 24 new houses by year’s end.

This is in stark contrast to the HDA’s early years. The Alliance built its first house for a local family in 1996, and for the next couple of years averaged about two houses per year.

“Now we build a house every two weeks, on average,” McReynolds said, adding that they have also begun focusing on energy efficiency repairs, and in the past year have completed 25 energy audits.

McReynolds gave credit to the HDA’s staff, from their construction crew to management, for the organization’s growth over the years, and also noted the important support they receive from the community and volunteers each year. First Federal Savings & Loan in Hazard has formed a partnership that has contributed in financing several local homes, while the Kentucky Housing Corporation and several other organizations have also played a role.

The HDA continued to grow these past few years despite a struggling economy which has been highlighted by a downturn in the housing sector. But locally, their success has been a boon to the economy. According to McReynolds, the HDA annually purchases approximately $1.5 million in services and materials from local businesses.

“We were able to continue to grow through the whole time in terms of production, and I think that’s a huge benefit for the local economy,” McReynolds added. “Housing has a high impact on the economy, to the extent that we’re able to continue to build. Not only do we use our carpenters and staff, we’re buying materials from local vendors and hiring subcontractors, so there’s a lot of economic development that results from what we do.”

Ultimately, though, this award presented to the Housing Development Alliance this week is a testament to the work that they, as an entire organization, complete on a daily basis, and McReynolds added that they’re not finished with their mission and expect to continue to build on their past successes.

“It’s exciting that it does feel like maybe we’ve arrived.”

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