An abandoned home in Highland Park was demolished Tuesday to make way for new affordable housing units.

It’s all a part of the HFF Blight Elimination Program, a statewide initiative to revitalize neighborhoods by repairing or removing abandoned homes. Blighted homes are vacant properties that are typically in total disrepair.

Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise is the first organization in Hamilton County to participate in the HHF Blight Elimination Program. 

"This particular home was condemned by the city and so in bulldozing it and cleaning it off the lot gives us an opportunity to create new housing units in the neighborhood,” Martina Guilfoil said.

Guilfoil is the President of the Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, she said its blighted homes like this one on East 12th Street that have a negative impact on the surrounding community.

"By eliminating a house that is a blighting influence in the neighborhood actually has a negative impact and by removing it will spur investment,” Guilfoil said.

Under the Blight Elimination Program, qualified nonprofits and land banks can apply for loans of up to $25,000 to cover the cost of acquiring a blighted abandoned home, demolishing it, greening the property and maintaining the vacant lot. The greened lot can then be transformed into new affordable housing or another use approved by THDA for the stabilization of the surrounding neighborhood. THDA monitors the completion of each project and forgives the loan after three years, or sooner for certain uses.

This is the first home demolished in Hamilton county. Residents say it's much needed in their neighborhood.

"We need help around here because I mean a lot of houses are condemned and there are a lot of homeless people that need houses and I’m glad to see them do this,” Resident Erica Jackson said.

The owner of the home demolished was about $40,000 behind on their mortgage. This program allows them to give their lot to non-profits to build on and walk away debt free.

Residents hope this project will spur others in Highland Park to invest in the neighborhood as a whole.

"We have many people in the community that don't take pride in where they live,” Resident Libby Fenn added.

Once the home is demolished the project to build the new affordable housing unit is expected start immediately.

Tennessee’s HHF Blight Elimination Program is administered by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and funded by the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund.

THDA has been approved to allocate $10 million of recycled HHF program dollars for the Blight Elimination Program.

Hamilton County is one of seven where Blight Elimination Program funds are available. The other counties are Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Montgomery, Anderson, and Rutherford.

The deadline for nonprofits to apply for funding is Dec. 31, 2020.