$7.5 million federal grant to bring supportive housing for seniors to Austin Homes site

Scott BirdAustin Homes Revitalization

The ongoing redevelopment of the Austin Homes site will include 50 units of supportive housing for seniors made possible by a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to a Knoxville nonprofit, the only 2021 program grantee in Tennessee.

Southeastern Housing Foundation II, a subsidiary of the nonprofit Knoxville Leadership Foundation, is the recipient of the grant, and Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) will serve as the developing partner and property manager.

The Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program grants are awarded through a competitive application process by HUD. The funds, which provide both construction funding and rental assistance to low-income seniors ages 62 and older, will allow independent living in a neighborhood setting with supportive care such as housekeeping, meals, health-related services and access to transportation.

“This collaboration with KCDC will enable both of our organizations to follow our missions of providing stable housing and establishing healthy communities,” said Chris Martin, president of Knoxville Leadership Foundation. “It is a testament to everyone’s commitment that Knoxville became a recipient of this grant.”

Established in 1941, Austin Homes is a nearly 23-acre site located just east of downtown. KCDC is replacing the site’s affordable housing units and adding a mix of housing choices for families and individuals of varied income levels to create a vibrant urban community.

“The redeveloped Austin Homes will become a diverse intergenerational neighborhood of people across various age groups and income levels,” KCDC Executive Director and CEO Ben Bentley said. “Elderly residents will have access to services that allow them to live independently with the additional benefit of interaction with residents of different ages to address issues of social isolation.”

Phase 3 of Austin Homes redevelopment will include approximately 156 new housing units, including the 50 supportive housing units.

“The redevelopment of the Austin Homes community is vitally important to increase the availability of affordable housing in the City of Knoxville and create a neighborhood that is diverse and inclusive,” Mayor Indya Kincannon said. “The Section 202 grant award makes the redevelopment even better since it will address another critical need of supportive services for the elderly to improve overall quality of life for some of our city’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Construction on phase 3 is expected to begin in 2022. Phase 1 includes 105 units, which are scheduled to open later this year, with Phase 2 to bring 180 units in late 2022.

“I commend KLF and KCDC’s efforts to secure these competitive federal funds and want to especially point out that this project is the only Section 202 grantee in the state of Tennessee,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, who represents District 2 in East Tennessee. “This accomplishment speaks to the outstanding leadership at both KLF and KCDC and the commitment and dedication of the entire staff.”

The 50 single-bedroom units at Austin Homes will be home to those earning less than 50% of Area Median Income, as mandated by HUD for Section 202 recipients. The building will have 17 other one-, two- and three-bedroom family units.

Services and amenities will include:

  • Slip-resistant flooring materials, adequate lighting in all units and common areas, elevator access, grab bars in bathrooms and handrails in common areas.
  • Multi-purpose community room for elderly residents.
  • Fitness room programmed for both elderly and non-elderly residents to promote mingling.
  • Access to gardens, greenway and a park.
  • Telehealth room pre-wired and equipped for virtual health meetings.
  • Broadband connectivity.
  • Two-way emergency call feature in all elderly units.

“This supportive housing grant allows us to continue our mission of providing affordable housing for the Knoxville community and creating neighborhoods that can thrive,” Bentley said. “I am particularly proud of our staff for securing this funding to assist low-income seniors.”

The ongoing redevelopment of the Austin Homes site will include 50 units of supportive housing for seniors made possible by a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Rendering courtesy Southeast Venture Design.

KCDC currently offers supportive services for seniors at The Manor at Northgate Terrace in Northwest Knoxville. The Manor, which started in 1987, is the only program of its kind in the state.