The Smithville Planning Commission voted Monday night to recommend to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen the re-zoning of property that may soon become the location for an apartment complex for low-income grandparents who are raising a child.
The two acre site, owned by Bruce Medley, is located to the south of Bright Hill Road and to the rear of Fiddler's Manor and other property owners on Walker Drive.
The proposed Fiddlers Manor Annex would actually be situated on 1.76 acres of the property. Site plans have not yet been considered for approval by the planning commission.
The planning commission gave the public an opportunity to speak but no one voiced any opposition to the proposed rezoning.
The issue will now be considered by the city council. Approval is required by ordinance on first and second reading before the rezoning can take effect. If approved, the property would be rezoned from R-1 low density residential to R-3 high density residential.
Congressman Bart Gordon made the announcement of the proposed complex in a news release last month.
In the announcement, Gordon said "More grandparents are responsible for raising their grandchildren than ever before. However, many of these grandparents are retired and struggling with the cost of raising a child. Today, Congressman Bart Gordon announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded a $1.67 million grant to build eight apartments in Smithville for low-income grandparents who are raising a grandchild.
"The numbers are staggering – more than 101,500 children are being raised by a grandparent in Tennessee," said Congressman Gordon. "While I am happy UCDD received this grant, more needs to be done. If a grandparent steps forward to raise their grandchild, we have a responsibility to make sure the grandparent isn't overwhelmed financially as a result."
The grant was awarded to the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD) as part of the HUD's Demonstration Program for Elderly Housing for Intergenerational Families. This program is intended to assess the best way to assist the more than 6 million children in the United States being raised by a grandparent. If the UCDD program is successful, it will potentially be used as a model for assisting other grandparents throughout Tennessee and the rest of the country.
"This grant will help us build upon our previous work," said UCDD Executive Director Wendy Askins. "Not only will we be able to help grandparents pay for expenses such as school supplies and clothing for their grandchildren, but we will be able to build and provide them with safe and affordable living environments. I would like to thank Congressman Bart Gordon and his staff for their support and help in getting this project funded."
UCDD was one of only two organizations to receive HUD's Demonstration grant (the other organization is based out of Chicago). UCDD received the grant in part because of its previous efforts to assist grandparents raising their grandchildren. Since 2000, UCDD has received grant money from the Tennessee state government as part of the Relative Caregiver Program and developed a program to assist low-income grandparents to pay for their grandchild's basic needs.
Larry Webb who runs the Cumberland Regional Development Corporation – UCDD's nonprofit housing construction partner – explained that the grant money will be used to build six two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom units. Rent will be based on 30 percent of the grandparent's income minus any medical expenses they have. In addition, UCDD will pay the utility bills.
"I am confident that UCDD will develop a successful program with this HUD grant," said Gordon. "When they do, I will work to ensure that they receive additional grant money to expand their program and help the many other grandparents who have stepped in to raise their grandchildren."