Reinvesting in Historic Homes Update Program (ReHHUP)
ReHHUP is a volunteer-led, nonprofit organization that provides residents of target neighborhoods with grants, loans, and other assistance to encourage them to maintain the character and community of Mount Vernon's historic districts for everyone.
We are currently running a grant and loan program partially funding exterior renovation and repair projects in Mount Vernon’s near-east side. We are also searching for researchers and writers. These researchers and writers can help us put together a guide to historic home restoration for property owners in Mount Vernon. They can also help us conduct research on the plausibility of a new program in Mount Vernon's North Main area (described below). If you would like to participate as an applicant or volunteer in any of these projects, our contact information and relevant links are listed in the sidebar. There is more information about each program below.
The East Side Project
ReHHUP’s East Side Project is designed to induce homeowners and nonprofits in the near-east side neighborhood of Mount Vernon to update and improve their homes—historic or otherwise. The program will partially-fund exterior repairs, maintenance or improvements that enhance the overall design integrity and appearance of the neighborhood.
As noted in ReHHUP’s Policies and Procedures for the project, the program’s founders chose the East Side because it includes two portions of historic districts included in the National Register of Historic Places: The East Gambier Street District and the East High Street Historic District. In the 20th century, historic residential neighborhoods such as this have experienced significant disinvestment and suffer from struggles to keep ahead of the “peeling paint”, or deteriorating housing stock. Through its grant and loan program, ReHHUP has partnered with long time residents and excited new homeowners to reinvest in this area. Over the past three years, residents have contributed 1/3 or more of the funds to restore and repair 31 homes. This year, 2020, we hope to see at least ten more residents apply.
Other work specific details:
Work must be completed within 24 months of application approval
Work can be completed by homeowners but must be bid by a licensed contractor
Work must be in compliance with City codes and building permit processes
How does the Financing Work?
The award will be a one-time, up-front cash payment based on total project costs. ReHUPP is a 1/3 grant, 1/3 loan, 1/3 property owner paid program.
The maximum award will be $10,000 or 2/3 of the lowest contractor bid
Loans will be 0% interest paid back quarterly over 3 years
How do I Apply?
Rolling applications are evaluated on a first-come first-served basis. To begin the application process complete the form below and a ReHHUP representative will be in contact about the next steps.
Applications will be evaluated based on:
Current state of the property
Proposed changes addition to neighborhood character & charm
Ability of the applicant to complete the project and repay funds
Will the Landmarks Foundation help me with my project?
YES! If you are having difficulty finding contractors to bid your project or have other questions about how to complete the project, please contact us. The Knox County Landmarks Foundation may also be able to help you add your home to the National Historic Register or conduct research on the home.
Click Here to download the application.
For questions and/or help with the application process please contact:
Who is Eligible?
Any owner-occupied home in the designated program area is eligible to apply for the grant. Home need only be in the designated area. They do not have to be particularly historic or notable.
What Work is Eligible?
The program covers only exterior work that enhances the overall appearance and historic character of the neighborhood. Generally, any work that is visible from the street can be covered by ReHUPP.
Specifically, the program will cover:
Significant landscaping improvement that enhances the house's street presence.
Noticeably enhanced exterior lighting
Modifications to front entry systems, windows, and doors
New or restored facade elements - Cornices, corbels, soffits, etc.
Street visible roof improvements, replacement
The North Main Project (Prospective)
What we are calling the North Main area spans from North Mulberry Street to North Gay Street and from East Chestnut Street up to Elizabeth Street. The ReHHUP Committee is researching the North Main area's potential for an extension of the grant and loan model we developed on Mount Vernon’s near-east side. We are also researching how to design a community building component that can complement the East Side model. We are considering programs like community meetings including renters, who we hope to offer assistance ranging from legal education and opportunities for representation to opportunities to provide feedback that we can use to identify what sidewalks or properties near them can be restored or repaired with the help of our program.
Why the North Main Area?
The North Main area was added to the national register of historic places in 1990. It is split between two census blocks: the eastern (North Main) block and the western (North Mulberry) block.
The historic housing stock in these census blocks has declined at an appreciable rate in the past two decades. In 2000, 73% of homes in the North Main census block were built in 1939 or earlier. Only 55% of the homes were by 2017. Similarly, 63.1% of the housing stock in the North Mulberry census block was built before 1939 in 2000, and only 37.7% was built before 1939 in 2017. This is unfortunate, because beyond their historic value, old homes are an important source of affordable housing stock; the North Main census block has significantly more affordable rents than census blocks West of it, despite having much higher property values.
This is an area where residents have met at least twice to discuss what they perceive to be the declining quality of the neighborhood in terms of housing stock and a sense of close-knit community. According to the 2017 census, there is a major divide between the high value of homes on North Main and North Gay and the value of homes on adjacent streets. In the block including North Mulberry Street, the number of homes valuing only $35,000 to $39,999 has increased from 2013 to 2017 from 9% to 35%. Midrange valued homes (from $50,000 to $70,000) have decreased from 64% of stock to 37% of stock. Even along North Gay and North Main, many properties in the area have visibly deteriorated.
The attitude expressed by homeowners along North Main and North Gay is that this neighborhood deterioration is encroaching on their streets. They are primarily concerned with the state of a vacant properties in their neighborhood and with rental units, which comprise 37% of housing stock in their census block and 73% of housing stock in the North Mulberry census block. In some cases, residents complain that landlords don’t care to keep up properties, and in others they complain that tenants have no sense of belonging or care for the neighborhood. Tenants and landlords are also important investors in the community, so this is a harmful attitude to the area as a whole. Residents have organized meetings to talk about issues in the neighborhood, but in many ways they feel at a loss to coordinate a response to these problems.
The above reasons are why ReHHUP is researching North Main's potential as the site of a new project area. However, the unique challenges that residents face in the area will require to Committee to conduct careful research before designing and applying for grants to fund a neighborhood initiative there. In particular, the Committee wants to reach out to renters so that we can help organize future community meetings to include them and show their value to the North Main area. We also want to give them the same acknowledgement as homeowners by using renter feedback to learn what resources and assistance renters would be most interested in to support their place in the community.
Help Us Help the Community
To achieve this, we need homeowners’ and renters’ feedback on their experience in the North Main area. If you live in the project area, please feel free to contact us with information about the neighborhood or your situation in it. If you are someone interested in volunteering with ReHHUP to research the project area, we would also welcome hearing from you!