A new development in Rhea County is currently in the planning stages. We Care Community Services announced plans to develop four acres into a residential community that will provide rental housing for low-income senior citizens.
Through a unique collaboration with the University of Tennessee-Knoxville School of Architecture, students this fall will create the master design plan for the innovative new neighborhood.
Plans are to build seven or eight energy-efficient, 900-square-foot homes designed with open floor plans, front porches, rear decks and small, private yards. Instead of busy streets, the homes will face onto sidewalks, gardens and a common building for meetings and activities.
The development addresses the need to provide affordable housing options for low-income senior citizens, according to Dr. Walter Ring, president of the non-profit organization We Care Community Services. He envisions a walkable “green community” where seniors feel safe and comfortable.
The design plan calls for a number of cutting-edge features: “gray water,” recycled from shower, bath and laundry water, will be filtered and reused for irrigation. Streets will be designed around the community, with plenty of room for pedestrians and bicyclists. The houses will be set close together, to maximize use of the land for gardening and recreation. At the same time, residents will have privacy; each small yard will be set off by a picket fence, covered porches and private entrances.
Dr. Ring said similar “pocket neighborhoods” have worked well in other parts of the U.S. He is looking forward to the fall semester at the University of Tennessee, when students and teachers will begin sketching out detailed plans on the new neighborhood. UT’s College of Architecture and Design, the only accredited school of architecture in the state, also offers Tennessee’s top-ranked Interior Design program and a newly established Landscape Architecture program.
We Care, founded in 1982, serves more than 10,000 Rhea County residents each year, providing mental health counseling, free and reduced-price food for low-income residents and numerous other services, including housing for people who use behavioral health services but are capable of living independently.