Mackey Advocates For Discretionary Funds That Would Allow Commissioners To Grant Monetary Rewards To Organizations Within Their Districts That Are In Need Of Financial Help In Providing Services To The Homeless.
Photo: Chattanooga Community Kitchen, 727 E 11th St, Chattanooga, TN
Photo Credit: Google
Published: January 8, 2001
Hamilton County, TN – During the Hamilton County Commission meeting on January 6th, the Commission voted on a resolution to continue a lease agreement for space to be utilized by the Health Department to assist homeless individuals in obtaining insurance through a federal exchange.
District 1 Commissioner Randy Fairbanks said, “This is a renewal of a contract between the County and the Community Kitchen. This sets up an avenue where some people can help the homeless with their insurance.”
The motion was approved and voted on unanimously, but the well-known and well-connected Chattanooga Community Kitchen in District 8 receiving more money did raise some questions from District 4 Commissioner Warren Mackey.
Commissioner Mackey said, “This organization, of course they do a good job, but there are a lot of other organizations that do a good job. And some of those organizations are brought to the Commission by Commissioners and I just wonder, how do we separate that out?”
Mackey stated that some Commissioners are “closer to the ground” and know of other organizations that are going to do just as much for Hamilton County citizens in need.
“Why can’t we, the Commissioners, identify groups that are going to do good in the community? Why can’t we identify groups to receive funding too?” Mackey questioned.
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said, “Community Kitchen happens to be involved because they are across the street from our Homeless Health Care (Center). It just depends on what the needs are that we’re looking for but all of this has to be submitted and has to come to the Commission. None of this is done in a bubble.”
Mackey expressed that some of the resources need to be redirected to other organizations that provide services in other areas of the county and that many organizations are being overlooked because they are not “institutionalized” like the Community Kitchen.
“I think mine is the most impoverished and needy district in the county and it’s just worrisome that we have these acceptable organizations but then you have others that are doing equally good work – feeding people, clothing people, meeting their needs and are underserved,” Mackey said.
District 2 Commissioner Chip Baker said, “The way to get involved, from the standpoint of budgeting, is probably now if there are organizations that assist in the process of doing the services that Commissioner Mackey just discussed.”
District 5 Katherlyn Geter stated that there are organizations in the community that do not have access to this funding mainly due to a lack of understanding of how Hamilton County Government works and the processes an organization needs to undergo to receive funding.
“It’s just a matter of us continuing to identify them and explaining the process for them to apply now that we’re within our budget process. It’s a matter of continuing to educate,” Geter said.
Mackey stated that he wants to advocate for the restoration of discretionary funds to grant to the specialized, well-connected groups that the commissioners are aware of in their own communities that are in need of financial help in providing services for the homeless.
The restoration of the discretionary funds would allow the Commissioners to grant monetary rewards to organizations within their Districts that have failed to apply for or been denied funding through the Hamilton County Government.
The Mayor and the other Commissioners offered no response to Mackey’s proposal, instead choosing to remain on topics already on the agenda.