Hope Building Completes
First Home

If home is the place where everything begins, then the new home built by Hope Building is an incredible place to start. Building this home has rebuilt lives, and the house itself promises to be a place where a family’s future can grow and flourish.

Created by the Housing Development Alliance (HDA), Hope Building is a paid, on-the-job training program in construction for men and women in recovery. Trainees are referred to the program by Hickory Hill Recovery Center and Perry County Drug Court. Upon completion of the program, trainees leave with a solid work reference and course certificates from Hazard Community & Technical College (HCTC).

“(Recovery) is kind of like the rough part of framing,” said David Partin, one of Hope Building’s trainees. “Nothing is perfect. As long as you’re within a quarter of an eighth of an inch, put a nail in it. It’s going to work out; it’s going to be okay. That’s like life. It’s not the end, if you have time to put something back together. Just take it a piece at a time.”

Partin, who recently completed the program, has now been hired full-time as a Monitor at Hickory Hill, where he will mentor other men in recovery.

It’s an outcome that HDA officials see as the end goal of this unique program.

“Just like a good home is crucial to success in life, a dependable job has been proven to be a key element in sustaining a life in recovery,” said HDA Executive Director Scott McReynolds.

“The Hope Building program gives us the opportunity to help shape the futures of men and women in recovery by teaching them skills that will help reintroduce them to the workforce,” he noted. “At the same time, they’ll be giving back to the community by helping us build 15 homes for folks who really need them.”

As the Hope Building houses are finished, they will be sold on the open market. That means that unlike other homes built by HDA, which typically sells its homes to low-income individuals and families, the 15 homes built by Hope Building can be purchased by anyone with the means to do so.

“Funding for this program is provided by a three-year POWER grant,” said McReynolds. “The selling of these homes will help us sustain the program beyond the life of the grant.”

This Hope Building home features amenities such as a two-car garage, a cathedral ceiling, a back deck, and more. Like all HDA-built homes, the house is Energy Star-certified, which means that the homeowner will pay half of what homeowners of standard-built homes pay on utility costs.

The home is available for scheduled viewings, and on Wed., March 25 (note: this event was cancelled and not rescheduled due to the pandemic), HDA will hold an Open House Celebration at the home from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. for those in the community who’d like to see the house, meet the Hope Building trainees, and to learn more about the program.

“Anybody can use a hammer and a nail,” said trainee David Partin. “But when it gets to the cutwork, the sheeting, the flooring – when you get right down to what all goes into a house and you do it all, it’s really a big feeling to achieve something like that.”

Attendees will also be able to see for themselves the progress made by the trainees, who are now building their second house in the Christopher community of Perry County near Hazard. Those interested can also follow coverage of the program’s progress on the HDA Facebook page, where photos and stories are shared regularly.

David Partin working on framing the Hope Building home in Emmalena.

Lora Smith, executive director for the Appalachian Impact Fund (AIF), which provided a generous program-related investment (PRI) to Hope Building, said the program is addressing “an intersection of issues.”

Hope Building is an example of an Appalachian ingenuity that turns challenges into opportunities with a holistic approach to community health and healing,” she explained.

“We are excited to see HDA’s continued impact and success providing meaningful work for Eastern Kentuckians, while also addressing our affordable housing needs and offering a pathway for community members who have struggled with substance use disorder,” Smith said.

Update: Hope Building’s first single-family home, located at 210 Easy Street in Emmalena, sold in February 2020.

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Serving Breathitt, Knott, Leslie, and Perry counties, the Housing Development Alliance (HDA) is a 25-year-old nonprofit housing developer that serves as lender, counselor, developer, and contractor for low-income persons in need of housing assistance. We work with multiple organizations within the Federal, State, and Local governments and in the private sector to help individuals break down barriers to access the resources they need to build financial stability in regards to housing.