KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The opening of Dogan-Gaither Flats, a supportive housing development formerly incarcerated men, has been delayed by over a month due to a break-in over the Christmas holiday weekend.
Once open, the 16-unit apartment building will provide affordable, supportive housing for ex-offenders. Overall 20 lbs of copper wire were stolen, and nearly $153,000 worth of damage was caused by the disruption of the HVAC units and electrical wire cutting. The wire stolen was valued at $200.
According to a spokesperson with the Fourth Purpose Foundation, individuals removed all the wire in breaker panels in 6 of the 16 apartments being renovated. They also cut HVAC, low volt, and electrical lines in the center core of the building.
To repair the damage, the painted sheetrock will have to be removed, then the contractor will re-run electrical lines, replace and refinish sheetrock, reinstall insulation that is damaged, rewire the low volt access control, and repaint the damaged walls.
The repair work is expected to delay the opening by 50 days pushing the completion for Dogan-Gaither flats to June 2, 2022. The spokesperson with the foundation said this story was ironic to them because once open the build will “be used as a re-entry space to help former offenders just like the folks that committed these crimes.”
The development is lead by Knoxville-based criminal justice reform nonprofit Fourth Purpose Foundation, which was founded by criminal justice reform advocate and former convict Josh Smith after he was pardoned by President Donald Trump last year.
Smith had the dream for Dogan-Gaither Flats because he wanted to provide a place where former prisoners could find housing for affordable prices. Up to 30 people will be able to live in the complex along with one live-in manager from Men of Valor, a Christian-based program aimed at reducing inmate recidivism.