Highlands Residential Services owns and operates housing units in Algood, Baxter, Celina, Cookeville, Gainesboro and Monterey. Across our neighborhoods, we have 609 units, including 497 Public Housing units, 30 Low Income Housing Tax Credit units, and 80 Project-Based Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) units for the elderly and the disabled. Our units are designed to provide our region’s residents with clean and safe homes while they get on their feet again.
Individuals and families must qualify for the homes and programs offered by Highlands Residential Services. Each prospective resident must complete an application process and must be recertified annually once accepted. HRS receives funding for our homes and programs from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and each of our families contribute toward keeping and maintaining their homes through their monthly rent payments.
Our mission is "To provide safe, decent and affordable housing; to create opportunities for residents’ self-sufficiency and economic independence; and to assure fiscal integrity by all program participants."
In addition to providing homes, we offer various programs and services to our residents, including after-school and out-of-school youth programs. Teenagers in our HRS Cookeville neighborhoods are invited to participate in Teens Need Training, a series of after-school events and activities offering after-school programs, a summer day camp and community volunteer projects all funded through community partnerships with the Cookeville Police Department, the Cookeville Police Athletic League, and other businesses and organizations. KIDS Matter is an after-school reading program for HRS youth in grades K - 4 who reside in Cookeville.
Additional youth programs for all HRS youth include the annual “What Home Means to Me" poster contest sponsored by the National Association of Housing Officials and Redevelopment. Two of our children have earned National recognition in this contest — Helen Priester in 2009 and Kayla Padgett in 2013, as the National Grand Prize winner. Their poster designs were included in calendars that were distributed nationwide. We also do an annual Easter egg hunt at nine HRS locations. During schools fall break, we host the annual "Fall Funday" for HRS to enjoy games, arts & crafts, lunch and just getting to have fun.
“Each of our programs helps to build a stronger community through partnerships and friendships by sharing information and building a larger network of support across the Upper Cumberland region,” said HRS Executive Director C. Dow Harris. “We work to instill community-minded values in our children and adolescents through tutoring, mentoring, and engaging experiences while helping their parents and guardians find the support and services they need to build a better future.”
Highlands Residential Services, formerly Cookeville Housing Authority, was established on October 29, 1952, and construction began on our first low-income housing development, Perry Morgan Homes, in 1957. Currently, we operate 607 units, including 497 Public Housing units, 30 Low Income Housing Tax Credit units, and 80 Project-Based Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) units for the elderly and the disabled.
HRS originally served only Cookeville, but today we support and strengthen the residents of Algood, Baxter, Celina, Gainesboro and Monterey, which means that our reach extends across the Upper Cumberland region.
To reflect our growing outreach and service area, we changed our name in 2013 to Highlands Residential Services (HRS).
“At Highlands Residential Services, we are more than housing. We are building on community to make our neighborhoods, towns and our region stronger, and our name change and image reflect that,” said C. Dow Harris, Highlands Residential Services executive director.
“The residents in each of the towns we occupy deserve the highest level of commitment and treatment we can offer, and we’re dedicated to continuing that,” said Highlands Residential Services Board Chair Dr. Robert Owens.
Board of Commissioners
Highlands Residential Services is comprised of a seven-member board of commissioners. The board meets monthly to establish policies, approve expenditures and provide guidance to the agency.
Highlands Residential Services currently employs 22 people, including managers, coordinators and maintenance. HRS also utilizes AmeriCorps members.