The city of Oak Ridge was built during World War II to accommodate the workers that were being moved into the area to help develop the atomic bomb. After the War, the city experienced a sharp decline in the population. In 1947 when the Atomic Energy Commission moved into the area, the City once again started to rebuild. The second major phase of construction took place between 1950 and 1958 when most temporary and substandard housing was removed and about 3,100 permanent units were built. Oak Ridge is a 92 square mile area and is surrounded by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) land, Department of Energy (DOE) land, and the University of Tennessee Arboretum. The 1990 census showed that Oak Ridge had a population of 27,310, but more than 30,000 people are employed within the City limits.
The City expects to receive about $270,000 in Federal entitlement funds. Some of the planned projects include: improving streets and sidewalks; rehabilitating housing to satisfy code requirements; establishing a Self Sufficiency Program to assist young families in overcoming obstacles to employment; and, providing support for an affordable housing program.
Oak Ridge is currently in the processing of rewriting its citizen
participation plan to be in conformance with 24 CFR 91.105. During the
Consolidated Plan preparation process, the City held two public hearings and
residents were invited to provide input. Notices of all meetings were placed in
the local newspaper. No written comments were received during the thirty day
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city of Oak Ridge's population
declined by several hundred people from 1980-1990, despite the fact that the
number of housing units increased from 11,487 to 12,694, or 1,207 units, during
the same time period. A trend in population over the ten year period is that
the white population decreased by 3.1 percent and the minority population
increased by 19.9 percent. This increase in minority population included a 12.5
percent increase in the black population, a 38.5 percent increase in the
Hispanic population, a 49.2 percent increase in the Native American population,
and a 42.3 percent in the Asian and Pacific Islanders population. It must be
taken into consideration that these percentage increases are for small
population numbers. The black population is now 8.0 percent of the total Oak
Ridge population compared to 7.0 percent in 1980. The total minority population
is now 11.4 percent of the total Oak Ridge population compared to 9.4 percent in
Oak Ridge is the site of the large scale joint U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) - Martin Marietta facility which dominates area employment with approximately 15,000 workers. Other major employers include Rust Engineering, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and Boeing Engineering. DOE facilities disseminate and encourage use of new technology resulting in many new spin off industries with a scientific and technological orientation.
The City estimated that there are relatively few households in the moderate and middle income groups that need housing assistance. Housing problems in Oak Ridge, therefore, are restricted to the very low income households and low-income households. Data to quantify the housing assistance needs of extremely low, very low and low to moderate income households was taken from the CHAS Databook provided by HUD. This information showed that 3,456 households in Oak Ridge have very low or low income levels. A disproportionate share of black households have very low or low incomes. Of all white households, 28 percent are low or very low income. Of all black households, 44 percent are low income and 36 percent are very low income. 1,441 renter households have very low or low income levels. Approximately 58 percent or 835 of these renter households are very low income households. General information on large related, owner families was not available except that 16 overcrowded owner units were estimated. It is estimated that there are 45 overcrowded rental units. Statistical information on single persons was not available.
These estimates indicate that approximately 17 percent of all households in Oak Ridge are very low or low income renter households. Twelve percent of all Oak Ridge households are very low income or low income owner households. Twenty-nine percent of all Oak Ridge households are low or very low income households. Approximately 10 percent of all very low and low income households are black and an additional 3 percent of the very low and low income households are either American Indian, Hispanic, or Asian.
The extent to which cost burden and severe cost burden is being experienced by very low and low-income households that rent and that are not receiving assistance is very high. Renters usually face a greater cost burden because their contract rent is based on market values, while homeowners' mortgages are often locked into a set amount. Sixty-eight percent of the small related very low income renter households have a severe cost burden. Severe cost burden for very low income households that own their own home is 63 percent. Cost burden and severe cost burden for moderate and middle income households are estimated to be much lower.
The City's population has remained relatively constant over the past 30 years. The 1990 census data indicated that Oak Ridge had a total of 12,694 housing units with 11,763 being occupied. There are 7,747 owner households and 8,154 total owner units for a vacancy rate of 5 percent. These 7,747 owner households occupy 61 percent of the 12,694 available housing units. There are 4,016 renter households in Oak Ridge and 4,540 total rental units for a vacancy rate of 11.5 percent.
Non-apartment rental units such as townhouses, duplexes, and single family houses are priced higher than apartment units. Vacancy rates were estimated to be comparable to those of apartments. A major concern of City officials is that several large scale landlords have purchased several hundred single family and multi-family units and practice insufficient maintenance of the units. The appraised values of these houses continue to decline and the neighborhoods have deteriorated. Many of these houses still meet code, but have created visual blight throughout neighborhoods. This in turn discourages adjoining property owners from reinvesting in their existing units.
The City's Advisory Committee on Affordable Housing Strategies conducted a study to determine the number and location of sales of housing units under $100,000 in value from January 1, 1990, to November 7, 1991. The results indicated, that over the 22-month period, the majority (184) of the homes sold was in the $40,000 to $69,999 range and are scattered throughout the City.
According to CHAS data, the housing market for sales is very tight in Oak Ridge. Of a total of 7,939 units, only 115 or 1.4 percent were for sale. Of the houses for sale, only 19 were affordable for low income families. This situation has adverse effects on very low income and low income families. If these families do not receive public assistance, it is probable they are paying more than 30 percent of their gross income on gross housing costs.
Oak Ridge has a unique situation of being a smaller City located next to a larger City (Knoxville) and County (Knox County). There are no overnight shelters within Oak Ridge. The homeless needing shelter are sent to Knoxville, which is the regional provider for these services. However, some local agencies provide for critical needs such as overnight shelter in a motel, gas, food voucher for a meal, and some medical attention. The YWCA Battered Women's Shelter provides room, board, and counseling to abused women (also available to their children). The shelter is a single family house with common living areas and 6 bedrooms. The maximum capacity is approximately 20 persons.
Oak Ridge has a Social Services Fund which provides rental assistance, utilities assistance, pharmaceutical assistance, and some medical fees to eligible Oak Ridge residents who are over 18 years of age. Individuals must apply for these services through the Anderson County Health Department and eligibility is based on the federal poverty level. In addition, Aid for Distressed Families in Anderson County (ADFAC) provides funding to people who are in immediate danger of being displaced. Using funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, ADFAC helps eligible people out of financial problems by paying one month's rent/mortgage and utilities. An Emergency Shelter Grant has been applied for from the State's next fiscal year allocation.
The Oak Ridge Housing Authority (ORHA) owns 128 rental units. Fifty of these units have recently been rehabilitated through a $843,321 grant. There are 586 project based housing units and 1,116 units of tenant-based assistance. Project based assistance is fixed in unit location while tenant based assistance is a voucher or certificate given to the tenant and the tenant finds suitable housing. According to a recent survey, there are 201 assisted housing units for the elderly within the City. These units do not include nursing home rooms. Currently there is a waiting list to get into public assisted housing. The existing public housing complexes are very neat and very safe. The Director's office is on site and he has an open door policy to all residents.
The total number of assisted units is 1,702 compared to 2,089 households with income below 50 percent of the medium income. There are an additional 1,367 households with incomes between 51 and 80 percent of the median. The ORHA does not plan to dispose of any public housing units, nor does it wish to sell any of its existing units. Residents who wish to become homeowners are encouraged to work through other available programs.
Oak Ridge has identified six barriers to affordable housing, which are:
The City's position on these barriers is: Overcoming barriers one and four is essentially beyond the City's control but they are making an effort to make this need known. Barriers two and three are growing needs that increase demand for an already scarce resource. By being aware of this growing special need they will explore new funding sources that address this particular problem. Barrier five, the City continually strives to facilitate the conversion of federally owned land to City owned land for the purposes of new development. Barrier six, the City will continually be strongly affected by the disinvestment of the defense industry.
The City has adopted a Fair Housing Ordinance that prohibits housing discriminatory practices. No known excessive, exclusionary, discriminatory, or redundant policies, rules, and regulations exist which would present barriers to affordable housing.
Based on interviews with representatives from the Anderson County Health Department and Oak Ridge Pediatric, lead poisoning from lead based paint does not pose a problem in this area. Many of the wartime/post-wartime houses were built using asbestos as a component. The Federally mandated removal requirements of asbestos may increase the cost of rehabilitation of these homes and may in turn actually discourage their rehabilitation. Asbestos removal will also increase the cost of demolishing or removing dilapidated housing. The City's Homeowner Rehabilitation Program includes, as part of the regular inspections, inspections for lead-based paint hazards. Any peeling paint is considered a code violation and the problem must be rectified before the Codes Enforcement Officer will sign off on the rehabilitation being completed. Like policies are in effect for ORHA housing units and rental units rehabilitated by the Housing Development Corporation. The City's Code Enforcement Officials inspect all houses that are rehabilitated with grant funds. No contractors are paid until the houses meet code requirements.
Oak Ridge's housing market is extremely tight. Homeowner turnover is low, housing costs are artificially inflated, and the City is physically restricted for residential expansion by large landholdings by the U.S. Department of Energy. Because of these factors, it is very difficult to expand or develop new housing support programs.
Transportation services are another issue. More accessible public transportation is needed. The City has budgeted $49,403 for the Taxi Coupon Program for FY 1996 and $97,000 for the Public Transit Program for Fy 1996.
Oak Ridge does not project that there will be significant changes in the current estimate of housing assistance needs over the next five years. The population is also expected to remain stable during that time period. The number of elderly households in the City and in need, however, is expected to increase. These projections are subject to change if the Federal government changes funding to the three Federal installations in Oak Ridge which would affect total employment.
The majority of the existing services available in the City are not being
duplicated from agency to agency. The advantage of this is that services
rendered are maximized and administrative costs are held to a minimum. Gaps in
the services provided and the provision of affordable housing do exist. During
the several meetings held for the development of the Consolidated Plan, the need
for continued meetings between representatives of the various organizations
providing services in Oak Ridge was noted. Continued meetings to share
information and coordinate activities are planned.
In reviewing the needs assessment and the market and inventory conditions, City officials identified 11 priorities and goals. These needs and goals, along with economic development activities that create jobs, expand economic opportunities, and produce a suitable living environment for low-income and moderate-income persons are the long term community development objectives.
Although specific subgroups (elderly households) may have problems that are unique to their populations, housing problems in Oak Ridge are primarily related to very low, low income and an aging housing stock. Housing priorities and strategies reflect those conditions. Housing priorities focus on reducing cost burden for very low and low income persons; rehabilitating deteriorating very low income and low income owner occupied houses; rehabilitating rental units which in turn would be leased or sold to very low income, low income, and other special needs persons; increasing housing selection for those who receive rent vouchers; increasing the number of rent vouchers available to eligible persons as the affordable housing supply increases; providing emergency assistance to very low and low income persons threatened with displacement; providing transitional housing for people moving out of shelters; providing permanent housing for patients of the mental health care facilities; providing permanent housing for developmentally disabled persons; providing home help to elderly, handicapped and ailing homeowners and renters; and, providing public education to make low and moderate income persons aware of the various housing programs available to them.
The short term community development objectives are those listed as proposed projects in the Consolidated Plan. These projects include street resurfacing and pedestrian walkway improvements in the CDBG target area, the needs of at-risk students, the need for a City grants planner and, the self-sufficiency needs of young families.
This strategy is proactively being addressed and carried out by the top-performing eight- county Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) District in the nation. The city of Oak Ridge and the other districts benefit from a welfare-to-work experiment called JOBSWORK. The service delivery area system for providing services to participants is based on the idea of providing those services at a place and time most useful to the needs of the participant.
The primary Federal resources include CDBG and HOME. Resources from the State include Emergency Shelter Grant, HOUSE, and the Tennessee Housing Development Agency's home mortgage programs. Local resources include: First American Bank, Nations Bank, Heritage Federal, and Chase Manhattan Mortgage.
The five year strategy will be implemented through private industry,
non-profit organizations, and public institutions. Key participants were listed
in the Consolidated Plan.
The key projects stated in the Consolidated Plan for this fiscal year include: street resurfacing and pedestrian walkway improvements; housing rehabilitation program; support of an affordable housing program which will provide affordable housing, rehabilitation services and homeownership counseling; renovation of a facility for a new after school program which has been developed for at-risk students and focuses on self-esteem and violence prevention; and, a self sufficiency program for young families in overcoming obstacles to employment in an effort to move families up and out of subsidized housing.
The city of Oak Ridge operates under the exception criteria as the areas served contain less than 51 percent low and moderate income residents. CDBG funds are targeted to these residential areas and are spent on projects as indicated above.
The Community Development Department is responsible for the preparation of the Consolidated Plan. An Advisory Committee was established and was involved in helping with this process. In addition, housing and social service providers were invited to participate. Some of these providers were - Anderson County Salvation Army; Roane State Community College; Aids Response Knoxville; Anderson County Health Department, and Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County.
The City has identified the following 11 priorities as their housing goals:
Priority 1, to reduce the housing cost burden for very low and low income people;
Priority 2, to rehabilitate deteriorating very low income and low income owner occupied houses;
Priority 3, to rehabilitate deteriorating rental units which in turn would be leased or sold to very low income, low income, and other special needs persons;
Priority 4, to increase the housing selection for those who receive rent vouchers;
Priority 5, to increase the number of rent vouchers available to eligible persons as the affordable housing supply increases;
Priority 6, to provide emergency assistance to very low and low income persons threatened with displacement;
Priority 7, to provide transitional housing for women and children moving out of shelters;
Priority 8, to provide permanent housing for patients of the mental health care facilities;
Priority 9, to provide permanent housing for mentally handicapped persons;
Priority 10, to provide home help to elderly homeowners and rents; and,
Priority 11, to provide public education to make low and moderate income persons aware of the various housing programs available to them.
MAP 2 outlines the low and moderate-income areas in the City.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 indicates points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and the unemployment areas in the City.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment areas, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 depicts a Neighborhood Segments and streets with selected proposed HUD funded projects; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).
Mr. Luke Stapel
P.O. Box 1
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-0001
PH: (423) 482-8376