Area Legislators announce $25 million grant for Northeast Tennessee families in need

Published 4:47 pm Thursday, May 5, 2022

Before noon on Thursday, a joint press conference was held in Nashville between the Department of Human Services, the Governor’s Office, and the Legislature, further expanding on the State’s investment in the TANF Opportunity Act, which will provide $175 million across seven pilot programs within the newly-created Tennessee Opportunity Pilot Program.
Included in this program announced on Thursday is a $25 million grant that has been awarded to provide support to Northeast Tennessee families in need.
A press conference will be held on Monday, May 9, at 10 a.m. at the First Tennessee Development District offices in Johnson City. FTDD personnel and legislators will be available to answer questions regarding this pilot program for Northeast Tennessee.
Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), Rep. Rebecca Alexander (R-Jonesborough), Rep. Tim Hicks (R-Gray), Rep. Scotty Campbell (R-Mountain City), Rep. John Holsclaw Jr. (R-Elizabethton), and Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville) announced today that this grant is for a three-year pilot program that will redefine how Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits are delivered with the goal of moving those families out of poverty. It will fund the following:
  • Family partners — mentors with lived experience who help guide families through TANF and assistance programs.
  • Direct cash investments — funds to remove barriers, buy food, make car repairs, job training, childcare, and other needs.
  • Mental health services — a dedicated delivery system with Frontier Health to provide rapid mental health services as needed.
“First, let me thank Representative Hawk for his tireless work on this legislation. I’m very appreciative this grant has been awarded to provide life-changing services to families in Northeast Tennessee,” said Sen. Crowe.
“I was proud to cosponsor the legislation that established this program which passed in a bipartisan effort. These funds will be available as a result of the TANF Opportunity Act. The goal of this multi-pronged approach is to increase families’ capacity and stability while reducing their dependency on government assistance.”
Sen. Crowe added: “I was also proud to sponsor legislation that became a public act this year, requiring the department to report all activity and dollars allotted to families in need surrounding the four TANF goals, which include:
  • Providing assistance to needy families with children so that they can live in their own homes or the homes of relatives.
  • Ending dependence of needy parents on government benefits through work, job preparation, and marriage.
  • Reducing out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
  • Encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
Previously, funds were not being utilized as intended. Hopefully this legislation will result in these dollars being properly distributed to these families in need.”
The First Tennessee Development District (FTDD) will serve as the fiscal agent for administration of the grant funds and reporting and monitoring to the state. Formed in 1966 as a result of legislation passed by the General Assembly, FTDD is an association of local governments committed to improving the quality of life in Northeast Tennessee.
Rep. Tim Hicks said: “This grant is putting money where it’s needed the most: families. This will help families become stronger and give them the support they need to help generations to come. It’s especially exciting to see part of this grant coming to Northeast Tennessee.”
Rep. Rebecca Alexander (R-Jonesborough) said: “We appreciate the work of the First Tennessee Development District and all those involved who made this possible. This funding will provide much-needed assistance to struggling families in our community, but also across our state as they work to achieve financial security.”
Rep. Scotty Campbell said: “With housing being such a challenge for so many people in our region, this is a significant opportunity. There is only so much a government can do to strengthen families and this is a major step forward.”
Rep. John Holsclaw Jr. said: “I’m very proud to have been involved in helping attain a grant that so many families will benefit from. This assistance is much-needed during these troublesome times.”

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