Knoxville program helps low-income homeowners keep their homes

Knoxville program helps low-income homeowners keep their homes

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Karen Jackson grew up in her East Knoxville home, but lost it to foreclosure several years ago. The new owners let it fall into a state of disrepair. Karen Jackson grew up in her East Knoxville home, but lost it to foreclosure several years ago. The new owners let it fall into a state of disrepair.
Jackson re-bought the house, but the repairs were impossible in her financial situation until she found out about the city's Owner Occupied Rehabilitation Program. Jackson re-bought the house, but the repairs were impossible in her financial situation until she found out about the city's Owner Occupied Rehabilitation Program.
By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A city of Knoxville program is working to help low income homeowners keep their homes and, in the long run, is saving taxpayers money.

Karen Jackson grew up in her East Knoxville home, but lost it to foreclosure several years ago. The new owners let it fall into a state of disrepair.

“It was condemned - roof gone, everything gone, porch rotted out,” said Jackson.

Jackson re-bought the house, but the repairs were impossible in her financial situation until she found out about the city's Owner Occupied Rehabilitation Program.

“It’s where homeowners who meet certain criteria, income wise, can apply to the city of Knoxville for a low interest loan so they can get their house brought up to code,” explained Becky Wade, the director of community development for Knoxville.

The program uses federal funds, offering a combination of low-interest loans and some forgivable loans to enable modest-income homeowners to make major repairs and renovations they otherwise might not be able to afford.

With $866,000 funds a year, the city is able to help rehab more than two dozen homes each year. It doesn't just help families like the Jacksons but other taxpayers as well.

“The city is able to collect property taxes for these properties, when house values get depressed that’s when you see the tax value go down as well,” said Wade.

By rehabbing homes, it brings the value up for the entire neighborhood and prevents other costs that come along with blighted property.

Jackson will now repay the loan to the city over the next 20 years. With the assistance from the city, she can walk back into the home she grew up in.

“When you walk in the door, everything comes flooding back, you can see yourself running when you were six,” Jackson said. “It’s incredible, I’m so thankful.”

The city says they currently have no waiting list for applicants.

To be eligible, a one-person household must have total income under $33,900; a four-person household must have income under $48,400. In addition, applicants must be able to make debt payments, and the homeowner must be current on mortgage, tax and insurance payments.

For more details or to apply for a low-interest rehabilitation loan, call the City’s Community Development Department at (865) 215-2120.

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