published Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Westside Chattanooga resident writes to President Obama

  • photo
    The Rev. Leroy Griffith is a Westside resident and leader in the community.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A Westside resident wrote a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, asking for the president's support to preserve public housing.

"Don't fund any more destruction of villages," said the Rev. Leroy Griffith, referring to his Westside community that includes College Hill Courts, the largest and oldest public housing site in Chattanooga.

College Hill is among eight subsidized housing sites in the Westside, an area that has been discussed as a possible site for a Purpose Built mixed-income community.

Purpose Built is an Atlanta- based community revitalization consulting company that helps replace low-income housing with mixed-income neighborhoods. Westside residents are concerned that reducing low-income housing will displace several of the Westside's 2,800 residents.

The government should be expanding public housing instead of reducing it, Griffith said. Making sure that people have a place to live should be a human right, he said.

His letter asked Obama to reject all applications seeking federal funds to demolish College Hill or East Lake Courts, the city's third-largest public housing site.

City Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said she received a copy of Griffith's letter and that most of the issues Griffith addresses should be discussed with the Chattanooga Housing Authority. She said the council is mindful of housing concerns, but the housing authority monitors housing units and daily operations and does the overall strategic planning for low income housing.

"In most situations our hands are not freed up until we have legislation that we can act upon," Ladd said.

CHA officials declined comment.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development spokeswoman Donna White said Griffith's requests aren't far-fetched.

"We share the concern that public housing needs more funding," she said.

HUD submitted a 2013 budget to Congress that includes an increase in funding for public housing from the $3.9 billion received in 2012 to $4.5 billion in 2013. HUD requested that its Housing Choice Voucher Program get a nearly $1 billion increase from $18.2 billion in 2012 to $19 billion in 2013.

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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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