Westside Evolves, a collaborative neighborhood planning initiative led by the Chattanooga Housing Authority, Chattanooga Design Studio, Ccty of Chattanooga, Westside residents, and other stakeholders, provided information regarding the request for $2 million in American Rescue Plan dollars for the project.
The Westside is Chattanooga’s oldest public housing communities providing homes to over 1,500 families. The residents earn less than $15,000 annually and the area has a poverty rate of 87 percent. The area has experienced a 40 percent increase in domestic violence and 65 percent increase in violent crime since the start of the pandemic.
The ARP funds requested for the project will be used to renovate the CHA-owned historic James A. Henry School. The renovation will provide 100 Head Start seats to 3-5 year-olds living in the area along with classrooms for training, a health clinic and other social, recreational and educational opportunities.
The effort to receive funding from Hamilton County was led by Commissioner Warren Mackey who said, “This request fits perfectly with the County’s desire to grow educational efforts. The Westside currently has 60 Head Start seats. With the renovation of the James A. Henry School, this will immediately increase to 100 seats. Education is a top priority for our community and this is a wise investment in Hamilton County’s future.”
Chattanooga Housing Authority Executive Director Betsy McCright said, “The community is fully supporting efforts in one of our oldest public housing communities and we couldn’t be more grateful. Over 82 percent of the residents in the Westside participated in surveys to guide the planning efforts for their community. The survey results showed that The James A. Henry school has historical significance to the community and is the place they want to see renovated for the future. We are grateful to increase opportunities for 100 students who will begin their educational careers at James A. Henry and to many throughout the community who will come to it for training, social, recreational and life-long learning experiences.”
The CHA plans to begin working on the project immediately.