Permanent supportive housing will provide critical homes for residents in need, with support services and security onsite, while revitalizing a blighted eyesore
Chattanooga City Council tonight approved the rezoning of a blighted former motel at 7725 Lee Highway to allow it to be rebuilt into permanent supportive housing for 70 Chattanoogans in need.
The project is intended to transform a dilapidated, boarded-up building into a community asset that will create much-needed housing for formerly homeless residents, complete with supportive services onsite. Residents can learn more about the project at www.chattanooga.gov/airport-inn.
“The revitalization of the Airport Inn is an essential part of our strategy to provide homes and hope to Chattanoogans in need, and I’m grateful for our City Council’s partnership in helping us move the project forward,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly. “There’s no silver bullet to solving homelessness, and it’s not a problem we can solve alone, but by working together as neighbors to lift one another up, we can help residents experiencing homelessness rebuild their lives—which means a better city for all of us.”
The process for converting the motel, which has already led to calls for service decreasing by 47 percent onsite, relies on a well-established formula already deployed across Hamilton County and in all nine council districts, and which nationwide has a 97 percent success ratio of keeping residents housed.
Residents will be screened and referred from area service providers to the property based on pre-established eligibility criteria and an ability and willingness to live semi-independently, and residents must abide by the terms and conditions of their lease, as with any other apartment complex. From the outside, the building will be indistinguishable from any other apartment complex. But on the inside, residents will be able to get counseling and supportive service that will help them stay housed — for good.
Residents’ transportation needs will be served by CARTA’s on-demand services to allow them to access groceries, employment, healthcare and other needs, and the supportive service providers will assist residents in accessing those and other services.
Because every person faces different circumstances, some residents will move onto other forms of housing once they have secured gainful employment and their lives are stabilized, while others will continue to live in permanent supportive housing for years to come.
In response to feedback on the project from the local community, the Kelly Administration also created a “contract with the community” that includes a list of outcomes the administration is committed to pursuing to ensure that residents’ concerns are addressed. The administration took this additional step because while the bona fides of the permanent supportive housing model are well-established across the country and across Chattanooga, this would be the largest supportive housing complex yet built in Chattanooga.
“My administration is committed to getting this right, and we look forward to continuing to engage the entire community as work on the project progresses,” continued Kelly.
The administration will continue to refine its plans through two community roundtable sessions held at Shepherd Community Center. The first roundtable discussion will be held on Nov. 30 at 2 p.m., with the second to follow on Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. Residents who are interested in attending should register at:
Contract with the Community:
- Increased Enforcement —Chattanooga Police Department will increase enforcement efforts and resources around the area to further reduce incidents of violence or criminal violations, including allocating additional patrol officers to Charlie Sector, which includes patrol of the property located at 7725 Lee Highway.
- No Sex Offenders — No one on the sexual offender registry will be eligible to be a resident of the supportive housing units at 7725 Lee Highway.
- No Serious Violent Felonies — No one with a serious violent felony conviction will be eligible to be a resident at 7725 Lee Highway.
- No Drug Manufacturing Convictions — No one with a drug manufacturing charge will be eligible to be a resident at 7725 Lee Highway.
- Improved Facades — These supportive housing residences will be indistinguishable from a regular apartment complex.
- Accountability — The City of Chattanooga will retain the ability to shut down any dysfunctional permanent supportive housing facility, including this one based on proof of violations that continue to occur after notice under the contract or agreement for the operation of this facility. The City will retain this ability through funding mechanisms, code enforcement authority, deed covenants and usage agreements with any future developers.
- No-Camping Buffer — There will be a permanent no-camping buffer on any government-owned property surrounding the supportive housing property owned by the City.
- On-site Security — There will be a requirement for the operator of this facility to provide 24/7 professional security services while there are any permanent supportive housing services on-site, as well as cameras that are linked to the City of Chattanooga’s Real Time Intelligence Center.
- Transportation Services — CARTA will provide dial-a-ride services that will pick up at the front door of the facility.
- No On-Site Registration — There will be no on-site registration for these residences.
- Community Input — The City of Chattanooga will form a Community Advisory Committee, to include leadership from local churches, neighborhood residents and local schools.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Is the City purchasing the other motels in the area to turn into permanent supportive housing?
A: No, the City does not own them.
- What is happening to the other two extended-stay motels near the Airport Inn?
A: An applicant has applied to rezone the properties for multi-family residential use. The result of that request is between the property owner and the Regional Planning Commission, and if approved will proceed to City Council for a vote. The administration is not involved in this process.
- How will the City ensure the surrounding community, including the children in the surrounding schools, are safe?
A: Calls for service have already decreased 47% following the city’s purchase of and closure of the Airport Inn. While we don’t anticipate any criminal activity resulting from the new permanent supportive housing complex, the Chattanooga Police Department will be increasing enforcement around the area to further reduce incidents of violence or criminal violations – the vast majority of which are currently linked to the two remaining extended stay motels operating in the area.
To assist in increased enforcement, CPD’s most recent cadet class will largely graduate to Charlie Sector which includes patrol of the property located at 7725 Lee Highway.
Once open, the new permanent supportive housing complex will be staffed 24/7 with security onsite, as well as include security cameras linked to CPD’s real-time intelligence center.
- What will happen to the stretch of property behind the Airport Inn that the City also owns?
A: The City has no plans to develop the 3.16-acre tract of land behind the Airport Inn, which was automatically conveyed to the City and Hamilton County in 2020 as a result of the property owner’s failure to pay taxes. The property is a floodway, and would serve no useful purpose for development. The City is considering working with the County to create a conservation easement to preserve the endangered species that live there.
- When did the City buy the Airport Inn and for how much money?
The City purchased the Airport Inn in October 2021 for $2.785 million. The city originally offered $2 million for the property, which was rejected. The city accepted a counter-offer for $2.785 million.
With over 70 rooms available for conversion into high-efficiency single occupancy apartments, the cost equates to $40,000 per unit, which is significantly lower than the market rate of new construction, which averages nearly $200,000 per unit in Tennessee.
- Who will manage the renovation?
A: The City will issue a Request for Proposals outlining the scope of work for the renovation. The Request for Proposals will include requirements that are informed by national best practices, as well as include stipulations from the city’s “contract with the community” to ensure that the community’s needs are recognized. City officials will review all submitted applications and will make a selection based on pre-established scoring criteria.
- How will the City ensure the community is engaged throughout the process to address ongoing issues or concerns?
A: The City will form a Community Advisory Committee, to include leadership from local churches, including Silverdale Baptist Church, neighborhood residents, and representatives from Silverdale Baptist Academy and other local schools.
The advisory committee will meet regularly with the City and the organization selected to manage and staff the facility to discuss and address any issues or concerns that arise as the project progresses.
- What transportation options will be available to the residents?
A: The onsite support staff will assist residents in using CARTA’s shared ride service, CARTA GO, to get to the grocery store or to any needed supportive services appointments offsite.
The City is also exploring the inclusion of 2 commuter vans in its request for proposals for staffing and management of the facility, which would allow staff to schedule planned group trips to the grocery store and other safe outings for the residents.
- Will there be 24/7 security onsite?
A: Yes. The City will ensure that the organization selected to manage and staff the facility provides 24/7 security onsite.
The facility will also include security cameras that feed directly into the Chattanooga Police Department’s real-time intelligence center.
- How will residents be screened for eligibility?
A: The organization selected to manage and staff the facility will screen potential residents offsite to determine if they are eligible to lease a unit in the complex. No one with a serious violent felony conviction, drug manufacturing charge, or on the sexual offender registry will be eligible for a lease.
- What types of measures are in place to ensure the accountability of residents once they move in?
A: Every resident will have to sign a lease agreement that holds them accountable under certain stipulations, just like any other lease agreement with a property owner. Residents may not share their unit with another individual, may not have more than one guest in their room at a time, and must follow noise, waste, and smoking regulations.
As with any lease, if a resident breaks the terms of the lease, they will be held accountable to the lease terms, up to and including termination of the lease. Criminal behavior will be referred to law enforcement for prosecution, in addition to termination of the lease. In addition, CPD will be constantly monitoring the site through its real-time intelligence center.
- Who will run and manage the facility?
A: The City will issue a Request for Proposals for a service provider to manage and staff the facility. City officials will review all submitted applications and will make a selection based on pre-established scoring criteria.