KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The opening of a Knoxville housing facility for former inmates has been delayed after someone caused more $150,000 in damage after stealing $200 worth of copper wiring from inside it recently.
4th Purpose Foundation founder and Knoxville businessman Josh Smith said the Dogan-Gaither Flats development was set to open in March, but will now open in June -- calling the situation "frustrating."
The project is personal for Smith.
He spent time in prison years ago and was recently pardoned by former President Donald Trump. Through the investment, he's helping other former prisoners get back on their feet.
"If we don't allow people to transition in a better way... meaning getting good jobs, getting good housing, making a structure around them to set them up for success... Then there is a high likelihood that they're going to go back," Smith said.
The historic Dogan-Gaither Motor Court, located at 211 Jessamine Street, will become a new home for men looking for this fresh start.
The new development, Dogan-Gaither Flats, will provide housing, counseling, work placement and traditional skills training for ex-offenders.
Nashville based non-profit Men of Valor will manage the property but the Knoxville-based criminal justice reform philanthropy, 4th Purpose Foundation owns the property.
Smith said this is an opportunity to help fill a gap in a systemic problem.
In the State of Tennessee, the recidivism rate is 51%.
When men receive a full year of affordable support housing in a Men of Valor facility, the recidivism rate is less than 10%.
The entire cost of the project was nearly $4 million.
About $480,000 was provided by the City of Knoxville through the affordable Rental Development Fund.