published Thursday, June 18th, 2009

CHA seeks local money for stimulus

Audio clip

Naveed Minhas

The Chattanooga Housing Authority is seeking $2 million in city and charitable organization funding to apply for $15 million in stimulus money to build new public housing and renovate the Boynton Terrace Apartments.

"If we get it we will bring in $15-to-$20 million dollars of work in the city," said Naveed Minhas, CHA's vice president of development. "That means more construction, more jobs. It can be a boost for the local economy as well as public housing."

Mr. Minhas and housing officials began seeking money in May to meet the requirement of securing leveraging funds to compete for a portion of a $1 billion grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The money is designed to help competitive housing authorities improve their housing stock and create jobs.

Mr. Minhas met with Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield this month to discuss the possibility of the city contributing funds.

Richard Beeland, spokesman, said the city will try to help, but it can make no guarantees.

"This is quite a significant amount of money that they need," he said. "We're looking to every resource, but this is going to be difficult if we can do it."

CHA officials want at least to secure a commitment for financial funding by July 6, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's deadline to apply for money that would be used to renovate Boynton Terrace Apartments.

Joe Clark, president of Boynton Terrace's resident council, said the building needs to be made handicap accessible.

"You talk about making Boynton handicap accessible? You've struck a nerve," Mr. Clark said. "It's not right to tell people they have steak and gravy at the top of the ladder and they can't get up there."

He said residents in wheelchairs "catch the devil just trying to get in their doors. They usually have to wait for someone else to help them get in."

Boynton is the only high-rise building for the elderly in the Westside that does not have automatic doors, he said.

Housing officials also are trying to meet a July 18 deadline for which leveraging funds are needed to apply for money that would allow CHA to put 50 new units on the Fairmount Avenue Apartments property site in North Chattanooga and renovate units at Edward Steiner Apartments.

The new units at Fairmount all would be two and three bedrooms with energy-efficient stoves and air conditioning. There also may be solar roofs, public sidewalks and lots of landscaping to make sure the building meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, Mr. Minhas said.

Renovations for the 50-year-old Steiner Apartments will make the complex more energy-efficient, he said.

"We'd be able to reduce utility bills by at least 50 percent," Mr. Minhas said.

The possibility of receiving competitive grant money to restore public housing comes just three months after HUD allocated nearly $3 billion to more than 3,100 public housing authorities across the nation. CHA received about $6.3 million of that money, which it is using to renovate the Mary Walker Towers elderly high-rise building, to repair housing units and put new roofs on units in the Emma Wheeler Homes.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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