Efforts to reduce homelessness in Chattanooga will require a series of interventions and new resources, in addition to greater alignment between existing service providers, a new plan released by the Chattanooga Interagency Council on Homelessness explains.
Mayor Andy Berke created the Interagency Council earlier this year to improve Chattanooga’s response to homelessness.
The 2018 Chattanooga Community Action Plan details several strategies and interventions to end homelessness in the city. The plan is informed by input from stakeholders across Chattanooga, including individuals experiencing homelessness, numerous nonprofit agencies, community members, and City of Chattanooga staff.
“We have a moral and economic case for reducing homelessness in Chattanooga,” says CICH co-chair Betsy McCright. “At the core of this plan is a need to improve the way we serve our chronically homeless population so we can free up resources to help those who experience homelessness sporadically.”
“The plan supports and enhances our ongoing efforts to ensure homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring,” says Wendy Winters, director of the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition and member of the CICH planning and governance committees. “We’re excited about beginning the hard but necessary work ahead of us to achieve the plan’s goals.”
The plan defines chronic homelessness as being continually homeless for at least one year or four periods of homelessness within three years. Many who are classified as chronically homeless usually have a diagnosed disability, including serious mental illness or disabling drug addiction.
Deploying a housing first model and investing in permanent supportive housing can help people experiencing chronic homelessness have access to support services and maintain housing over time, according to the plan.
The plan also says those who are episodically homeless, usually due to an unforeseen financial or medical crisis, have success in rapid re-housing initiatives.
Rapid re-housing connects people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing as quickly as possibly through a personalized assistance package that might include time-limited financial aid or targeted support services.
“Making sure we end homelessness in Chattanooga is a priority of my administration because every Chattanoogan should live the life they want,” Berke says. “The Council has presented a plan that will help break down many of the barriers our homeless population experiences as the city and our nonprofit partners work to eradicate homelessness.”
CICH will finalize the community action plan and begin implementation in early 2019.
Read the draft plan: www.connect.chattanooga.gov/cich.
Source: Chattanooga Interagency Council on Homelessness