Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 29, 2016

City calls for landlords to help house homeless veterans

Two of Chattanooga's homeless veterans in Nov., 2014: James Fischer (left) who served in the US Army at Fort Hood, and Ronald Johnson (right), a Navy veteran. Mayor Berke has pledged to end chronic homelessness in the city. - File photograph by David Laprad

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke met with more than a dozen area landlords last week to discuss ways they can work together to end veteran homelessness and provide stable housing for the men and women who have served our country. With 11 homeless veterans in Chattanooga ready to move into a home today, the need for new landlords is greater than ever, the mayor said.

“Our veterans have fought for our freedom – they shouldn’t have to worry about fighting for a roof over their head,” said Mayor Berke. “That’s why it’s so important we continue to support our service men and women who are homeless, connecting them with landlords who can offer an open door and a new lease on life.”

The City is looking for landlords who are willing to rent one and two bedroom units at an affordable rate as defined by Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Landlords stepping forward in support include Carey Thornhill, president of Thornhill Management Group, who regularly rents to veterans who were once homeless.

“It’s one of the best forms of gratification. They support our freedoms, and when they come back home and can’t find housing, it’s a slap in the face,” said Thornhill. “It feels good when we know we can house them in some nice homes and have them in more stable conditions.”

Affordable Housing Provider Cleon Coleman, who has been housing veterans since the start of the initiative, echoed Thornhill’s experience, saying it’s great to be able to provide stability to someone who has been in a transitional state.

“I feel like veterans who have served should have some options when it comes to housing. It is fulfilling when you can house someone who’s given so much,” said Coleman.

Since the start of Mayor Berke’s Initiative to End Veteran Homelessness in Chattanooga, the City and its partners have housed 188 veterans. Through collaboration and communication with several community partners, Chattanooga continues to steadily house veterans every month.

“We are vigilant in our goal to house every homeless veteran in Chattanooga. We are making progress, and now is the time to double down on our commitment by opening our hearts and unlocking options for veterans to call home,” said Mayor Berke.

At last week’s meeting, Mayor Berke challenged the group of landlords to help house the remaining veterans who are homeless in Chattanooga, and to pass the word to peers with homes available for rent.

Anyone interested in joining the initiative and ending veteran homelessness in Chattanooga should visit chattanooga.gov/veterans.

Source: Office of the Mayor