Sherman Carter Barnhart helping to bring affordable housing, hope back to Dawson Springs

In a single moment, when an E-F 4 tornado hit Western Kentucky in December 2021, the Dawson Springs Housing Authority lost all 50 homes and their Management/ Maintenance building in the Clarkdale Court’s affordable housing community.

While dealing with personal losses themselves, leaders of Dawson Springs were faced with the challenging task of rebuilding. To design the new and improved Clarkdale Court, Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects, who has experience designing affordable housing in Kentucky, Tennessee, and numerous other states, is collaborating with Dawson Springs to design 50 new homes in duplex and single family arrangements of 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms.  The redevelopment will also include a new management & maintenance building to serve the residents. 

With their experience of working with multiple funding sources and familiarity in navigating federal programs, Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects is working with Dawson Springs to deliver a modern, affordable housing community with market-rate amenities. SCB is also working with the Dawson Springs FEMA consultant on estimating the cost for redevelopment, and strategies for phasing construction to align with funding. 

“We always take the approach that we will be on this journey with you, from beginning to end,” said Kevin Matthews, principal in charge of the firm’s Affordable Housing studio. “At times it seems the process is taking longer than we would all like, but we will get there. And we will get there together.” 

A team effort

As Sherman Carter Barnhart was pursuing this project, they knew they wanted, as part of their team, a special consultant, who had experience with a variety of funding sources, as well as experience working with a variety of federal agencies.  Barry Holmes is the consultant they knew could benefit the team & the Dawson Springs Housing Authority. Holmes brings decades of experience from a career working for a Public Housing Authority and is now a consultant for the firm’s affordable housing team.  He came on board at just the right time to bring this unique understanding to the Dawson Springs team.

Navigating the various funding streams and requirements in a project this large is critical, Holmes said. While Sherman Carter Barnhart doesn’t directly work on the project funding, the firm’s experience and familiarity helps them guide the client through the financial unknowns and requirements, Holmes said.

After a disaster, the people you’re working with might be carrying their own trauma. As a municipal leader himself working with SCB over the years, he’s experienced the firm’s approach to treating clients like people first.

“The professionalism and treating people the way you’d want to be treated is imperative in a situation like this,” Holmes said.  

Bringing hope

The project site is currently undeveloped, but the Housing Authority and Sherman Carter Barnhart have a vision for the future. Celebrating milestones along the way will be important to the community, Matthews said.

“I feel like it’s our job – how we maintain that level of hope and commitment,” he said.

“People’s lives have been upended. Their homes are gone,” Matthews said. “The big victory will be having residents back in Clarkdale.” 

Sherman Carter Barnhart and the Dawson Springs Housing Authority hope to break ground in the fall of 2023.