Efforts to reduce homelessness in Chattanooga will require a series of interventions and new resources, in addition to greater alignment between existing service providers, according to a new plan released Tuesday by the Chattanooga Interagency Council on Homelessness (CICH).
Mayor Andy Berke created the Interagency Council earlier this year to convene a community forum of service providers, agency leaders, business leaders, and other stakeholders to plan, coordinate, implement and monitor strategies to improve Chattanooga's response to homelessness.
The 2018 Chattanooga Community Action Plan details a number of strategies and interventions to end homelessness in the city.
The plan is informed by input and ideas from stakeholders across Chattanooga, including individuals experiencing homelessness, numerous nonprofit agencies, community members, and City of Chattanooga staff to fully understand the causes of homelessness in our community and how fresh approaches can address it. it.
“We have a moral and economic case for reducing homelessness in Chattanooga,” said CICH co-chair Betsy McCright. “At the core of this plan is a need to improve the way we serve our chronically homeless population so that we can free up resources to help those who may experience homelessness sporadically.”
"The plan supports and enhances our ongoing efforts to ensure that homelessness is rare, brief and nonrecurring," said Wendy Winters, director of the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition and member of the CICH Planning and Governance Committees. "We're excited to begin the hard but necessary work ahead of us to achieve the plan's goals."
Those who experience chronic homelessness are defined as those who are continually homeless for at least one year or four periods of homelessness within three years. Many who are classified as chronically homeless usually have a diagnosed disability, including serious mental illness or disabling drug addiction. Deploying a Housing First model and investing in permanent supportive housing can help people experiencing chronic homelessness have access to support services and maintain housing over time.
While those who are episodically homeless, usually due to an unforeseen financial or medical crisis, have success in rapid re-housing initiatives. Rapid re-housing connects people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing as quickly as possibly through a personalized assistance package that may include time-limited financial aid or targeted support services.
“Making sure we end homelessness in Chattanooga is a priority of my administration because every Chattanoogan should live the life they want,” said Mayor Berke. “The Council has presented a plan that will help break down many of the barriers that our homeless population experiences as the city and our incredible nonprofit partners work to eradicate homelessness.”
CICH will finalize the community action plan and begin implementation in early 2019. To read the draft plan, please visit connect.chattanooga.gov/cich/.