Homeless Coalition Says Resources Running Out To Aid Displaced Budgetel Residents

  • Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The executive director of the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition said at a Wednesday press conference that funding is due to run out in a week to help displaced Budgetel Inn residents in East Ridge.

Mike Smith said, "On Wednesday, November 16th, the week before Thanksgiving, the Budgetel was unexpectedly shut down with little notice to the residents.  The actual number of those displaced, no one really knows.

"The Homeless Coalition, working with numerous community partners, was able to quickly patch together a crisis response for those residents who had no options at the end of the day for other housing or shelter.

"Within the first two days, we were able to place 176 adults and 112 children in 121 hotel rooms spread across the county, with the vast majority of those rooms being in Chattanooga.  Additionally, there were several churches that opened their doors for over 60 other persons in families that had been displaced. 

"Through the outpouring of support from the community, direct support from THDA, assistance from United Way of Greater Chattanooga, Metropolitan Ministries, and so many others, we have been able to extend those 121 hotel rooms until December 14, 2022. 

"That is the date that our funds are projected to be exhausted.  The week before Christmas, we will no longer be able to offer emergency support for these 112 children and their families and pets. 

"I want to be clear on who exactly it is we are speaking of here.  The Coalition and community partners prioritized families with children and the medically fragile. 

"These families were working and paying for their stay.  A search of our homeless database shows that the majority of these families had never been identified as unsheltered.  These families may have never become unsheltered.  They were working.  They were paying their way, many pulling together meager savings in the hope of securing housing for their children.  They were trying to pick themselves up by their bootstraps.  Is this not the embodiment of the American Dream?  To provide a better life for your children?

"But the crisis has only gotten worse.  The emergency hotel rooms we secured were not in East Ridge.  East Ridge is where many were employed and walked to work.  They have now lost their employment due to no direct fault of their own.  These working parents did not chose to lose their jobs.

"On December 14th, our assistance runs out and many of these families will be with no resources and nowhere to turn.  

"We need more time.  We are working alongside amazing community partners who are making progress on housing these families.  But we need more time.

"After speaking with our partners, we project that we can house 70% of these families within 3 months, that is if we are able to keep them sheltered during that time.  These families want to work and provide for their children.  Do they not deserve that chance?  The chance at the American Dream that they had already been working toward?  

"Ask any of the families with children if they wanted to be raising their children in a hotel, and they will answer “no”.  They were doing what they could with what resources they had available.

"I am asking the community, corporations, local governments, the faith based community, and even God himself to work with the Coalition to see these families housed to ensure these children are not homeless the week before Christmas.  Let us as a community give these families a chance.  

"The estimated cost to offer emergency hotel assistance for 3 months which will offer the needed time to the community partners to house these families is $400,000.

Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition charges no overhead fees or administration fees to funds donated in this effort. All funds go directly to assisting these families. Please work with us."

The shutdown came on a public nuisance petition from District Attorney Coty Wamp, citing multiple police calls to the hotel near Exit 1.

Criminal Court Judge Boyd Patterson is due to make a personal tour of the hotel next Monday afternoon. He said he is seeking to have at least a portion of the Budgetel to reopen soon, while operating under new restrictions. Those include cooperating with the East Ridge Police.

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