With strengthened partnerships, resources, and a unified housing-first strategy, Kelly administration marks record-breaking progress in efforts to end homelessness.
The Kelly administration and its partners today announced a nearly 40 percent reduction in the number of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness in Hamilton County during 2022, marking record-breaking progress in the city’s work to end homelessness in Chattanooga.
The point in time count for homelessness, conducted by the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition in January each year, showed a 39.8 percent reduction in the number of unsheltered people in the county from 2022 to 2023 — with an overall reduction (including temporarily sheltered people) of 31 percent.
“Chattanooga was in the midst of a homelessness crisis when I took office, and with support from local and federal partners, we took bold and decisive steps to start solving it. The record-breaking progress we’ve made is a direct result of that work and a testament to what we can achieve when we work together,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly.
“As Mayor, I’m incredibly grateful for our partners, the teams at the City, and every Chattanoogan with a heart for service who stepped up to be a part of the solution. This is another chapter in Chattanooga’s remarkable history of coming together to solve our toughest problems,” continued Kelly.
Chattanooga was one of 105 communities across the country to join the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) House America program, launched in September 2021 in partnership with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to help reduce homelessness nationwide. Tasked with efficiently deploying federal funds to rapidly house at least 240 households experiencing homelessness and create at least 100 new affordable housing units, the City far surpassed its goals.
“I am pleased the city of Chattanooga not only met, but exceeded its 2022 goals under House America, and by doing so, reduced homelessness,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “I launched House America to enlist local leaders to work with urgency to address the nation’s homelessness crisis, including through the resources provided from the American Rescue Plan. Mayor Tim Kelly, the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition, and other partners did just that. Chattanooga exemplifies what it looks like when a community uses an all-hands-on-deck approach to solve homelessness by helping people find a safe and stable home.”
Deploying a Housing-First Strategy
Since being elected, Kelly has prioritized a housing-first strategy to solving homelessness, which focuses on providing permanent housing as quickly as possible and following up with supportive services to help residents reach self-sufficiency.
The City’s Office of Homelessness and Supportive Housing significantly increased its capacity to quickly move people off the streets and into permanent homes during 2022, rapidly rehousing more than 1,000 people.
City officials cite three primary factors that led to the record-breaking progress, including:
- Federal HOME American Rescue Plan dollars, deployed by HUD, which allowed the City to cover move-in costs and monthly rent for vulnerable residents until they were able to obtain a housing voucher
- HUD’s Emergency Housing Voucher program, which allowed the Chattanooga Housing Authority to reserve a portion of its housing vouchers for people and families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness
- A unification of partners through the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition, which brought together local service providers, landlords, and nonprofits into a single continuum of care with additional funding support from the City
At the same time, the City and its partners prevented more than 600 people at risk of homelessness from losing their homes, thanks to programs like the Eviction Prevention and Diversion Initiatives and support from community organizations that provide temporary housing options to those in need.
To learn more about the numbers and the City’s efforts, visit https://chattanooga.gov/ohsh/accomplishments.
The City remains focused on building up its affordable housing supply, including permanent supportive housing units for chronically homeless people to rebuild their lives. Through partnerships with the AIM Center and the conversion of the Airport Inn, 133 of these units will become available over the next two years – enough to house and support nearly all of the 156 chronically homeless people identified this January.
To keep the momentum going in the short-term, the Kelly administration will continue strengthening and expanding partnerships to close service gaps and find housing solutions for residents in need. In particular, officials will be working with the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition to prioritize rapid housing for veterans and households with children.
The administration will also be working with landlords to open up more affordable units, as well as engaging the faith community, who play a critical role in providing resources and support to previously homeless residents working to rebuild their lives.