Extraordinary People in Knox County Jennifer Smith works to improve lives of Knox Countians

Extraordinary can mean many things. Whether it is a person with exceptional character, or their efforts and accomplishments to better the community and the lives of individuals. KCEOC is thankful to call one of those extraordinary people the Vice President of Program Operations, Jennifer Smith.

Jennifer Smith has been developing housing programs for over 20 years.  She began her career as a Case Manager learning first hand of the struggles and barriers families in poverty face while trying to obtain housing.  She now serves as the Vice President for Program Operations. Over the years, she has worked to bring resolutions to these difficulties through the development of housing programs and projects in the community.

In 1997, Jennifer developed the Southeast Kentucky Housing and Homeless Alliance (SKHAA), a COC Supportive Services Only program, to serve the homeless in Knox, Bell, and Whitley and in 2006 expanded to include the whole Cumberland Valley Area.  In 1999, she obtained the Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) status for KCEOC. This allowed KCEOC access to funds available through the Kentucky Housing Corporation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to construct new homeownership units for low-income families. To date, 21 homes have been constructed in Knox County for low-income families.

In 2000, Jennifer applied for a grant through the Kentucky Housing Corporation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant was approved and KCEOC began receiving funding to conduct moderate and substantial rehabilitation for low-income households. To date, 21 homes have received these services, and 12 families received new homes.

In 2002, Jennifer applied for a grant and was approved for KCEOC to begin receiving Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA).  These funds were requested to provide rental security and utility deposits for homeless and low-income households.

Jennifer continued to apply for grants, programs, and funding. KCEOC now has a variety of housing programs including the Unemployment Bridge Program, Apartment Rental properties, Housing Counseling, Rental Counseling, and more.

She continues to work to improve programs, and create innovative ways to advance KCEOC and our programming to better assist the low-income, homeless, and housing needs in Southeastern KY. In September 2017, Jennifer revealed a Mini House built by the housing crew at KCEOC. It is an exact replica of the homes we build for low-income families. The Mini House will be used for educational purposes to teach children in the 3rd-5th grade about energy efficiency, green building, promote construction, broaden future employment options, hands on learning, and more.

In the 20 years at KCEOC, she has received over $15 million in grants for KCEOC, which are renewed and approved each year maintaining programs and jobs at the agency. Her efforts, and leadership, have drastically changed the lives of Southeast KY residents, and improved the community in many ways. We would like to recognize and thank Jennifer for her hard work and dedication to KCEOC and the community she serves every day.