Photo Credit: Jon Tyson / Public Domain
Published May 28, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
The city of Chattanooga has partnered with two hotels in an effort to help those affected by homelessness. The homeless rate rose during the pandemic, and through these partnerships, they plan to begin housing people within the next week.
The mayor’s administration has spoken out about the hope that it will help to solve homelessness in the city. The new Chief Policy Officer for Chattanooga, Joda Thongnopnua said two hotels responded to their request for proposals.
The two bids received were from the Super 8 on Birmingham Highway and the Chatt Inn.
Thongnopnua said, “This is one tool in the toolbox to make sure this problem doesn’t get worse.”
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Rooms at the Chatt Inn will be filled first.
“That hotel is pretty much at capacity,” Thongnopnua said. “So we are only going to have a limited number of rooms there and so we will allocate the money on a per cost basis.”
The rest of the $200,000 in FEMA funding will then be put toward filling empty rooms at the Super 8.
It will be up to the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition to decide who is given access to the rooms, with first priority being given to the most vulnerable.
Thongnopnua said, “We’re looking for folks who don’t have shelter right now, that they are in a vulnerable place and that particularly they are experiencing homelessness for the first time, it’s a much more expensive proposition to house those folks as people stay homeless for longer.”
He said a long-term solution is the end goal, with the hotel partnerships just the start.
“What can we be doing to find long term, low bearing shelters for folks and that’s something we’re considering as a main part of our strategy but also how are we wrapping support services, housing navigators, outreach services that way we can solve the problem over the long term,” he said.
Between each hotel, there will be fifty rooms to provide temporary shelter for 90 days.
The executive director for the Coalition, Wendy Winters, has said that the pandemic spiked homelessness, but it is not the only issue.
“Our unsheltered homeless population has increased by 80 percent. Some of that is related to COVID, and some of that is related to the fact that we don’t have a lot of affordable housing right now. Housing can be very hard to come by right now,” she said.
According to Winters, finding affordable housing has always been difficult for homeless individuals.
“People would get a resource of some sort,” she said. “A housing subsidy to receive housing but then not be able to find an affordable unit in which to use it. We need to be able to provide shelter that is needed anyway but also in a way that is safe.”
Both of the hotels are ten minutes from downtown and the Chattanooga Community Kitchen will be delivering free meals. There will also be security six hours a day and services available to help individuals find permanent housing options.