Trammel Community Revitalization Project
by People IncorporatedRegion 3 · Abingdon, VA
Trammel, Virginia is of the earliest “coal camp” communities in the Appalachian Mountains of
southwestern Virginia. People Incorporated was approached by the Dickenson County Board of Supervisors to assist in a community revitalization project. The goal was to revitalize the community’s substandard dwellings and infrastructure, boosting the economic development and community pride.
Local Need Addressed
In 2016, People Incorporated assisted Dickenson County to apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) planning grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia. People Incorporated helped the County to navigate the CDBG funding process, wrote the grant application, and was eventually selected by the County to serve as the grant administrator and technical assistance provider for the planning grant initiative.
The CDBG planning grant provided some initial resources to clearly identify the local community’s needs and to develop a comprehensive plan for addressing them. Through this process, People Incorporated:
- Conducted extensive surveys to identify housing and infrastructure needs
- Determined income eligibility of residents for potential grant assistance.
- Completed a community infrastructure assessment to determine improvement and repair needs for community shared facilities (e.g. sidewalks, drainage, roadways, etc.).
- Conducted detailed in-home inspections of households requiring rehabilitation work or substantial reconstruction needs to bring dwellings up to HUD Housing Quality Standards,
- Held monthly community meetings to solicit input and involvement from residents
- Developed a comprehensive community vision, plan and draft budget to address all of the identified needs.
Through this process, People Incorporated collected volumes of data related to the current status and level of need in Trammel, specifically:
- There are 38 habitable homes in the Trammel community, of which 35 are the original minimalist 5-room dwelling built to accommodate mine workers 100 years ago
- None of the dwellings had indoor plumbing until 1992 when public water and sewer was made available to the community via an infrastructure development grant
- 35 of the dwellings are currently occupied; 3 are vacant
- 30 of the 35 households (86%) had Low-to-Moderate Incomes (LMI), of which 21 (60%) are very low or extremely low income
- 21 dwellings were occupied by elderly households
- 100% of the housing units failed to meet HUD Housing Quality Standards
- 17 properties are severely blighted, burned out or collapsing/partially collapsed structures
The project is clearly driven by both individual and community-level data that have been utilized to develop a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the Trammel community.
From the outset, People Incorporated has sought to provide opportunities for local residents to
lead the charge when making decisions about their community. People Incorporated established a local management team during the CDBG planning grant phase as the first step in engaging the local community in the project. During this period, local residents participated in visioning exercises, recruited other residents to the meetings, and were essential in identifying the scope, type, and methods of assistance that are priorities for the community.
As the project has emerged from the planning stages, People Incorporated proceeded with
establishing two additional, resident-led committees to oversee the project. A Housing Rehab Board has been established to inform and make approval decisions on the provision of housing rehabilitation services for individual homeowner properties as part of the project, and a Grant Management Team has been established to provide general oversight and direction for the project as a whole. The majority of the decision-making membership on both of these committees consists of current residents of the Trammel community.
Trammel, like most of southwestern Virginia, is not racially diverse. All of the residents that will be impacted by the project are White (non-Hispanic), which is not uncommon in a county where 98% of the population is Caucasian. There is, however, a strong sense of the need for social equity associated with the project.
As described earlier, part of the impetus for the project stemmed from a request for assistance
from a local board of supervisors member. While there are certainly broader economic objectives to be accomplished via the project, local residents have been very vocal in urging the supervisor to get them some help to address the needs within their community. What started off as a conversation focused on getting a bathroom constructed at the community playground has evolved into the community-wide redevelopment effort that People Incorporated is leading today.
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