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KCDC, Central Bearden reopen Lighthouse ministry at First Creek at Austin

December 1, 2023

Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) and Central Bearden Church officially reopened the Lighthouse at First Creek at Austin on Nov. 30, fulfilling a promise to return the on-site, faith-based organization to the housing community.

The Lighthouse, part of Central Bearden’s community outreach, provides after-school tutoring for grades 1-8, a children’s ministry, mentoring for high school students, back-to-school backpack drive with supplies, a women’s Bible study group and other services for residents.

Representatives from Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) and Central Bearden officially reopen the Lighthouse at First Creek at Austin on Nov. 30. The Lighthouse, part of the church’s community outreach, provides after-school tutoring, mentoring for students, a women’s Bible study group and other services for residents. Ceremony participants included, from left, State Sen. Becky Massey; Peter McKay and Ben Bentley, KCDC; and Jeanette Witt, Marty Smith, Carolyn Meadows, Becky Duncan and Mark Moreland, Lighthouse at Austin Homes board members.

During the construction of First Creek at Austin, which started in 2020, the nonprofit shifted to in-home visits for relocated residents to continue the programs that had been in place for 25 years. First Creek at Austin is built on the site of the former Austin Homes, which was established in 1941 on nearly 23 acres just east of downtown.

“As a critical step in the master planning process, we talked to residents and other stakeholders about what they wanted in a new housing community,” KCDC Executive Director and CEO Ben Bentley said. “Ensuring that the Lighthouse returned to the revitalized community was important to both residents and KCDC, and we are glad to provide this new and improved space for the Lighthouse’s services to continue.”

The site has undergone a transformation into the city’s first mixed-income, affordable housing community with different styles of buildings and floor plans and amenities that include a fitness center, resident lounge, playground and Wi-Fi in common areas, along with greenspaces and connectivity to downtown.

“We have been eager to return to the site when First Creek at Austin opened, and the transformation of the community is incredible and inspiring,” said Lighthouse missionary Jeanette Witt. “We are seeing familiar faces and getting to know new ones as we restart our on-site services to children and families. We thank KCDC for ensuring our return and the opportunity to continue our ministry and outreach directly in the community.”

About Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation

Since 1936, KCDC has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for the citizens of Knoxville. KCDC’s mission is to improve and transform neighborhoods and communities by providing high-quality affordable housing, advancing development initiatives and fostering self-sufficiency. For more information, call 865-403-1100 or visit