New blight-reduction fund pays to raze condemned Highland Park home

Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise President and CEO Martina Guilfoil, left, and Ralph Perrey, executive director of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, speak before demolition begins Tuesday, August 23, 2016 at 1801 E. 12th Street. The abandoned home will be demolished to make way for new affordable housing.

An excavator's giant, metal claw tore into a condemned Highland Park house Tuesday morning at a ceremony that marked the start of an effort here to tap a new, $10 million Tennessee fund to eliminate blight.

Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise (CNE), a nonprofit housing organization whose motto is "dedicated to building a better Chattanooga," got a $25,000 grant from a $10 million Blight Elimination Program administered by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and funded by the U.S. Treasury's Hardest Hit Fund.

"Why is CNE bulldozing a home?" CNE President and CEO Martina Guilfoil asked at the ceremony's opening.

She explained that the condemned home at the corner of South Hawthorne and East 12th streets wasn't salvageable because of black mold and raw sewage inside of it.