HDA Chosen as Grand Marshal of Black Gold Parade

Local nonprofit plays major role in flood recovery

HAZARD, Ky. – After a year of building back following the July 2022 floods, the time has come for the community to come together in a different way and celebrate its strength.

This year’s Black Gold Festival has chosen the theme “Country Folks Can Survive,” and the Grand Marshal of its annual parade reflects that commitment and determination.

The Black Gold Committee has announced that the Grand Marshal of the 2023 Black Gold Parade will be the Housing Development Alliance (HDA), a local nonprofit organization that has led rebuilding and disaster recovery efforts in Perry County.

“We wanted to honor those who have played a major role in flood recovery,” said Terry Feltner, chair of the Black Gold Committee. “We’ve had a rough few years in the mountains between COVID and the historic flooding last July, yet we are still moving forward and pushing through. Because that’s what we do!”

Over the last year, HDA has completed 42 flood relief home muck and gut projects, 37 home rehabilitations on flood-damaged homes, and built and sold 11 new homes to flood survivors whose homes were destroyed. In July, the affordable housing developer broke ground on the site of its 20th new home for a flood survivor.  

“We are thrilled and deeply humbled to be selected as this year’s Grand Marshal,” HDA Executive Director Scott McReynolds said. “So many folks have worked tirelessly to serve our community and bring it back from this disaster. We’ve been honored to work alongside those folks and to do all we can to help people rebuild their lives.”

McReynolds continued, “Thank you to the Committee for acknowledging HDA’s staff, especially as they’ve had to work long hours and do a lot of difficult things they didn’t sign up for. They’ve really stepped up for our community this year to meet the challenge of the huge housing need we’re seeing.” 

McReynolds noted that HDA is currently working with a growing list of over 250 people in need of home rehabilitations and new homes. In a normal year, HDA carpenters build 17 to 20 new homes and complete around 50 home rehabs. However, since the flood, McReynolds said both of these numbers had to be doubled.

As the parade’s Grand Marshal, McReynolds said HDA carpenters and frontline staff will be the focal point of the day’s celebrations. Each carpenter and staff member participating in the parade will wear a “Stronger Than the Storm” T-shirt – a motto that has been HDA’s rallying cry throughout the year.

HDA's "Stronger Than the Storm" T-shirt designed (with input from HDA staff) and printed by Appalachian Apparel Company.
“That’s the thing we’ve consistently seen since the floods – the strength of our community. That’s why we wear that shirt,” McReynolds explained. “Mountain people are survivors, and while this flood landed a heavy blow, it won’t beat us.”

As the old saying goes, everybody loves a comeback story.

HDA celebrates its 30th birthday as a staple of the community on Sept. 8, and in that time, it has granted hundreds of fresh starts and second chances. From helping low-income families become first-time homeowners, to helping flood survivors start over in a new or improved home, to celebrating the achievements of its Hope Building crew (which, by the way, is made up of folks in substance use recovery), HDA’s history is full of underdogs and overcomers.

Sometimes, places need comebacks, too. And sometimes, it takes a whole town to make it happen. With each home built and every repair made, HDA is showing Hazard how it’s done.

About Housing Development Alliance, Inc.

Serving Breathitt, Knott, Leslie, and Perry counties, the Housing Development Alliance (HDA) is a 29-year-old nonprofit housing developer that serves as lender, counselor, developer, and contractor for low-income persons in need of housing assistance. We work with multiple organizations within the Federal, State, and Local governments and in the private sector to help individuals break down barriers to access the resources they need to build financial stability through affordable housing. For more information, visit 1sp.commoncorestandardsreading.com.

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