Cookeville prepares to open new housing development for low-income seniors

Posted at 8:57 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 21:57:06-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A nearly complete apartment complex in Cookeville is aimed at housing the city's low-income population.

The City of Cookeville is a lot like the other municipalities in Tennessee in which there is a wide range of income levels here.

There are numerous people on fixed to low income. That's why affordable housing has become so important.

The housing authority rebranded itself to Highland Residential Services. Executive Director Dow Harris said they're trying to combat the stigma around low-income housing.

"It's like a black eye," said Harris. "We've been blessed in our area. We're more of a rural, regional-based housing authority, covering Putnam, Jackson and Clay counties. Some of the bad images of public housing goes with the public housing. We're trying to get away from that and offer more modern [homes], that's why our board chose to redevelop, rather than remodel."

One woman, Anne Anderson, has already been selected for Highland Residential Services' newest development, Oak Tree Towers.

"I can't wait. I've never had anything like that in my life since I was 6 years old," Anderson said.

She's lived nearby in another low-income neighborhood for eight years. However, the buildings are 50 to 60 years old. Harris said it was time for an upgrade.

"It's a mixed-income development," said Harris.

The housing in Cookeville is being slowly transitioned into Section 8 housing, which could be used to house some of the city's homeless as well.

"Our waiting list is through the roof," said Harris. "If we had another 100 units built today, we could have them filled up from our waitlist."

Some people have to wait two to three years to get into housing.

Anderson said getting into a new place with an updated modern look would help her self-esteem.

The complex will have a variety of amenities built-in as well. They include a barbershop and event space. It's designed for people aged 62 and older, but there's a nearby development that will be intended for families.

Being on Section 8 will allow the city to fundraise for more projects.