Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, April 21, 2023

Briefs: Chattanooga mayor: Homelessness down in Hamilton County

Chattanooga mayor: Homelessness down in Hamilton County

Mayor Tim Kelly’s administration says the number of unsheltered people who experienced homelessness in Hamilton County in 2022 was down nearly 40%, marking what Kelly calls “record-breaking progress in the city’s work to end homelessness in Chattanooga.”

The point-in-time count for homelessness, conducted by the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition in January each year, showed a 39.8% reduction in the number of unsheltered people in the county from 2022 to 2023 and an overall reduction – including temporarily sheltered people – of 31%.

“Chattanooga was in the midst of a homelessness crisis when I took office,” Kelly says. “With support from local and federal partners, we took decisive steps to start solving it. The record-breaking progress we’ve made is a result of that work.”

Chattanooga was one of 105 communities across the country to join the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s House America program, launched in September 2021 in partnership with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to help reduce homelessness nationwide.

Tasked with deploying federal funds to house at least 240 households experiencing homelessness and create at least 100 new affordable housing units, the city surpassed its goals.

Since being elected, Kelly has employed a housing-first approach to solving homelessness, which focuses on providing permanent housing as quickly as possible and following up with supportive services to help residents reach self-sufficiency.

The city’s Office of Homelessness and Supportive Housing rehoused more than 1,000 people in 2022.

City officials cite three primary factors that led to the record-breaking progress, including:

• Federal HOME American Rescue Plan dollars, which allowed the city to cover move-in costs and monthly rent for vulnerable residents until they were able to obtain a housing voucher.

 • HUD’s Emergency Housing Voucher program, which allowed Chattanooga Housing Authority to reserve a portion of its housing vouchers for people and families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.

• Aunification of partners through the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition, which brought together local service providers, landlords and nonprofits into a single continuum of care.

At the same time, the city and its partners prevented more than 600 people at risk of homelessness from losing their homes, thanks to programs like the Eviction Prevention and Diversion Initiatives and support from community organizations that provide temporary housing options to those in need.

The city remains focused on building up its affordable housing supply, including permanent supportive housing units for chronically homeless people.

Through partnerships with the AIM Center and the conversion of the Airport Inn, 133 of these units will become available over the next two years – enough to house and support nearly all of the 156 chronically homeless people identified this January.

Nominations open for City of Potential Awards

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga is accepting nominations for its second annual City of Potential Awards. BBBS is seeking nominations for individuals and organizations who are creating opportunities and impacting lives through mentoring.

Nominations will be open through May 29 and the winners will be announced in July and recognized at BBBS’s second annual City of Potential Awards Breakfast Aug. 23 at The Common House.

The award categories are:

• Chris Ramsey Mentoring Legacy Award: This recognizes an individual whose long-standing commitment to mentoring has impacted the life of multiple individuals.

• Excellence in Mentoring Award: This award recognizes a mentor whose commitment has made a long-lasting impact on the life of a mentee. This mentor should be a champion of those they formally or informally mentor and should be a person who generously shares their time.

• Accelerating Potential Award: This award celebrates the organizations and people who are implementing mentoring into additional communities. The award recognizes those whose initiatives are using mentoring to improve outcomes.

Nominate an individual, business or organization at www.cityofpotential.com.