Documents have been signed by Life Bridges Inc. accepting the Tennessee Housing Development Agency funding whose authorization came through a cooperative partnership with the Southeast Tennessee Development District.
Dr. Luke Queen, executive director and chief executive officer of Life Bridges, said THDA support of the local agency over the years has been instrumental in helping to secure and renovate housing for Bradley County residents who struggle with developmental disabilities and who are low-income.
“THDA’s support has been a great benefit to the agency and to the residents of our houses,” Queen said. “The staff at THDA has been great to work with and we look forward to working with them again on this new project.”
This is the second major THDA grant to Life Bridges in two years.
In 2010, the organization received a $450,000 THDA home grant for the acquisition and rehabilitation of two houses for special needs tenants. The funding also financed improvements to the Petitt House, another residential unit owned by Life Bridges. These projects were recently completed.
The 2012 THDA grant, whose signing was attended by both local mayors, state legislators, a county commissioner and Life Bridges employees, is a Housing Trust Fund (HTF) Competitive grant, according to Joe Cate, retired Cleveland city manager who now works part-time as a planning consultant with the Southeast Tennessee Development District. Cate worked closely with THDA and Life Bridges to develop the grant.
“We could not have done this without Joe,” Queen said. “He has done many wonderful things for our organization and for the clients we serve.”
Life Bridges currently operates 34 residential buildings serving 110 clients. Queen said the agency has served people with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1973. The agency provides a full range of comprehensive services and support for its residential clients. All Life Bridges residential housing is provided 24/7 staffing, and Medical Residential Supported Living houses are staffed with full-time nursing care.
Because of its outreach and quality care provided to those with intellectual disabilities, Life Bridges has a longstanding history of support from state agencies, Queen noted. Since 2006, the organization has received $2.5 million for acquisition, renovation and rehabilitation projects.
The funding is intended specifically for projects that benefit clients and the services they receive, not for general administrative operations or salaries, he explained.
“We’re trying to do good things for the community, for those with medical needs and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Queen said. “Life Bridges wants to be, and works to be, a part of the Cleveland and Bradley County community.”
Of the support the organization has received from the area’s legislative team, city and county government jurisdictions, community leaders and its own board members, Queen stressed, “We are blessed beyond our means here in Bradley County.”
The THDA Housing Trust Fund was developed in 2006, “... to address housing needs of the very low income, the very low-income elderly and the very low-income special needs populations of Tennessee,” Cate explained.
THDA funded $7.8 million in projects statewide through the HTF Competitive grant program in the 2012 grant round.
The recent Life Bridges document signing was attended by several local government leaders including Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, State Sen. Mike Bell, State Rep. Kevin Brooks, Bradley County Commissioner Bill Winters and Life Bridges industrial consultant Terry Caywood.
During the THDA signing at the Life Bridges administrative offices on Old Chattanooga Pike, the delegation toured the new Tom and Sandra Rowland Pavilion that is available for community use. The structure was sponsored by the Cleveland Civitan Club for Life Bridges and community use to honor the past support of the Cleveland mayor and his wife who serve as master of ceremonies during the annual Special Olympics.