Changes in federal funding for public housing are driving redevelopment of public housing in Murfreesboro and across the nation.
In response, the Murfreesboro Housing Authority (MHA) is taking the first step in a multi-phase, multi-year process. That step is to create a master plan for the redevelopment of Oakland Court, a 76-home public housing neighborhood on approximately 20 acres between North Academy and Maney Avenues.
If adequate funding is secured, plans call for the 76 homes at Oakland Court to be replaced with brand new homes, and for another 74 homes to be added there, along with overall improvements to the neighborhood.
Funding for the master plan and construction will be by secured loans and Low Income Housing Tax Credits issued by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, if MHA’s funding applications are approved.
If enough funding can be secured over time, likely six to eight years, Mercury Court and Parkside, two additional public housing neighborhoods in Murfreesboro, also will be redeveloped.
Oakland Court is managed by MHA, which is responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the homes, all of which are rented to residents. Families living in public housing managed by MHA pay 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to do something at Oakland Court that we believe everybody will like,” said Charlie L. Teasley, Chair of the MHA Board of Directors. “By doing away with aging housing that can’t be repaired, and replacing it with something the residents and the community will be proud of, the overall value will be tremendous to Murfreesboro. We want the new neighborhood at Oakland Court to fit in with the entire North Highland corridor as it redevelops.”
The first steps in the master planning process are sharing preliminary information and listening to residents, stakeholders and the public about their ideas for Oakland Court, and about public and affordable housing in Murfreesboro. In-person meetings are scheduled March 13 and 14.
“Even though this process is driven by the way funding has changed at the federal level, we’re fortunate here in Murfreesboro because the end result will be a brand new neighborhood with new homes, sidewalks, a community building and other nice amenities for residents,” said Thomas Rowe, MHA Executive Director. “We are just beginning work on the Oakland Court master plan, which we hope to complete by July. Our focus right now is to talk with the residents, neighbors and others in the immediate area, and the public in general, to find out what they’d like to see at Oakland Court, and throughout Murfreesboro, in the way of public and affordable housing.”
The first meetings are March 13 with families who currently live in Oakland Court, Mercury Court and Parkside. Small group stakeholder meetings will occur March 13 and 14. A Public Open House for the entire community is Thursday, March 14, from 4 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. at the Murfreesboro Housing Authority, 415 North Maple Street. The public is invited and encouraged to attend. Additional public meetings will occur in April and May.
What happens after the master plan is complete?
After the master plan is created and made final, and funding is secured, plans call for 30 families currently living at Oakland Court to relocate to temporary housing for approximately 12 to 18 months.
During that time, in Phase I, 76 new homes will be built where the existing 30 homes previously stood. Once the 76 homes are complete, the 30 residents who relocated and 46 Oakland Court residents who remained on the property during the first phase of construction will move to the 76 new replacement homes in Oakland Court, completing Phase I by a projected date of December 2021.
In Phase II, 74 additional homes will be added for a total of 150 homes at Oakland Court, almost doubling the number of homes available there to qualified families.
After these 74 homes are complete, families living in Mercury Court, a public housing neighborhood located on Hancock Street in Murfreesboro, will relocate to new housing at Oakland Court.
After the Mercury Court residents relocate to Oakland Court, the approximately 15 acres at Mercury Court will be redeveloped to include additional affordable and mixed income housing, as well as possible commercial development.
“Our goal is to design a new neighborhood at Oakland Court, complete with new homes that blend with the surrounding area, while also expanding the number of affordable homes for Murfreesboro,” said Margaret Butler, AIA, LEED AP, Principal and Vice President, McCarty Holsaple McCarty of Knoxville, Tennessee.
Butler leads a team of firms working on the Phase I master plan, including Butler; Richard Foster, AIA, LAP, Director of Design, McCarty Holsaple McCarty; Randy Caldwell, R.L.A., LEED AP, Executive Vice President, and Kevin Guenther, P.L.A., LEED AP, Associate, Ragan Smith Associates of Murfreesboro; Bill Huddleston, P.E., R.L.S., Huddleston Steele Engineering, Inc. of Murfreesboro; Phyllis Vaughn and Phillip Vaughn, CPA, Vaughn Development Group, Inc. of Nashville; and Terri Sterling Donovan, APR, Principal, Sterling Communications of Murfreesboro.
“When complete, we will have the same mix of home sizes at Oakland Court as we do now,” Butler said. “We envision nice streets, homes with front porches that are closer to sidewalks lining each street, and other improvements.”
Butler said hearing from the residents will guide what the new Oakland Court neighborhood will look like and amenities it might include.
About public housing in the U.S.
Currently, public housing across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, needs more than $26 billion in repairs. Because adequate funding has not been appropriated by Congress to maintain public housing, a new program, titled Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), has been instituted. RAD provides public housing authorities like MHA the ability to enter into long-term contracts that facilitate the financing of improvements through public and private debt and equity in order to reinvest in public housing. (Source: https://www.hud.gov/RAD)
About the Murfreesboro Housing Authority
The Murfreesboro Housing Authority is a nonprofit corporation that began in 1950 to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing in good repair for eligible families in a manner that promotes serviceability, economy, efficiency and stability of the developments; and to utilize all available resources to maximize the social and economic opportunities of its residents.
The MHA is governed by a five-member Board of Directors appointed by the Mayor of Murfreesboro.
Public Open House
Oakland Court Master Plan
The public is invited and encouraged to attend. Thursday, March 14, 2019
4 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Murfreesboro Housing Authority, Maple Room 415 North Maple Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37130
The meeting is come-and-go format.