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‘Homeless’ housing proposed for Lovell Heights’ Debusk Lane
Public hearing 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, at Strang Senior Center

Local residents will have an opportunity to speak for or against a proposal to bring an apartment complex to house chronically homeless persons to West Knox County during a public meeting scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, at Frank R. Strang Senior Center.

Proponents of the complex are calling this the second public meeting concerning the project following a presentation by Grant Rosenberg, with Knox County Office of Neighborhoods, and Jon Lawler at the last meeting of the Council of West Knoxville Homeowners Association, Monday, Nov. 3.

Lawler heads up the Mayors’ 10 Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, a combined task force of Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. The town of Farragut did not participate.

At issue is the purchase of two acres of land off Debusk Lane, which is appraised by Knox County’s Trustee at $130,000 and priced at about $500,000.

A resolution is on Knox County Commission’s Nov. 17 meeting agenda calling for “an agreement with Southeastern Housing Foundation, LLC to provide $443,200 in Community Development Block Grant program funds and $56,800 in Tennessee Housing Development Agency program income for the acquisition of property located at 125 Debusk Lane for the development of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals.”

The property would be purchased at the asking or appraisal price, whichever is lower.

Robert Finley, fundraiser and communications person for the 10 Year Plan, said, “An appraisal of the property has not been done as yet.”

Findley said the land would be used to build a 23-unit apartment complex for chronically homeless people who have matriculated through a screening process.

According to Finley, people who are chosen to live in the complex will have to pay rent and abide by house rules in order to remain in residence. Some of the residents will have paying jobs; others will rely on other government funding.

Transportation will be made available for the residents enabling them to get to work, seek medical treatment and buy groceries.

KAT buses presently are not routed down Kingston Pike into Lovell Heights.

Craig Leuthold, 5th District Knox County commissioner, said he thought the asking price for the land was too high and that there would be additional costs — cost for building the structure and transportation for the tenants.

“I wanted to know if this was the only property in the area that they looked at,” Leuthold added.

Leuthold also expressed concern about this location’s close proximity to a liquor store and a daycare center. Frontier Liquor is on the corner of Kingston Pike and Debusk Lane.

“I wouldn’t want to see [a daycare] go out of business” because of the placement of a homeless housing development, he said.

Strang Senior Center is located across the street from Debusk Lane at 109 Lovell Heights Road off Kingston Pike.


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