published Monday, October 1st, 2012

Chattanooga Housing Authority plan largely unread

Betsy McCright, CHA executive director, left, and Eddie Holmes, CHA board chairman, discuss the Chattanooga Housing Authority's 2013 Annual Agency Plan during a board meeting last week.
Betsy McCright, CHA executive director, left, and Eddie Holmes, CHA board chairman, discuss the Chattanooga Housing Authority's 2013 Annual Agency Plan during a board meeting last week.
Photo by Dan Henry.

READ THE PLAN

To read the Chattanooga Housing Authority's 2013 Agency Plan, go to www.chahousing.org and click the "About" button. The plan is at the bottom of the page.

WHAT'S NEXT

CHA board members voted to approve the 2013 plan. It, along with public comments included will be delivered to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by mid-October, CHA officials said.

The Chattanooga Housing Authority wanted to make sure people had plenty of time to read the 2013 Agency Plan and comment on it. So officials posted it on the CHA website and left it in the resident office of every public housing site in early August.

Then CHA hosted its monthly board meeting last week and dedicated the first part of the meeting to hearing comments from residents.

Residents had packed the CHA board room hoping to hear more about the plan. But hardly anyone had read it.

"I thought we would look at the plan together and know what it was," said Bonita Johnson, after the hearing.

Although about 60 people were in the audience at the board meeting, less than five people made public comments concerning the plan. One was East Chattanooga resident Patrick Kellogg. He told CHA officials that he did two Google searches for the plan and still didn't see it.

CHA executive director Betsy McCright said she has done five annual plans and has never heard any complaints about lack of communication or lack of access to the plan.

McCright said that other than putting the plan online, placing copies at housing sites and having resident meetings, she's not sure what else to do.

"We tried as hard as we could to advertise the availability of the plan and we encouraged everyone to submit comments," she said.

According to CHA records, the plan was advertised in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Aug. 8 as being available for review at CHA's central office, online, at all CHA locations, the public library and the city mayor's office and community development office .

CHA's resident advisory board, which is made up of eight to 10 public housing resident leaders, received copies in July. In that meeting the group had said they would be responsible for spreading the word about the plan and decided on Aug. 7 to discuss any questions after reading the plan. Only two people came to that meeting, said McCright. So she scheduled another meeting on Sept. 5. Three attended that one, said McCright.

Joe Clark, a Boynton resident who is vice president of the Westside Community Association, said CHA's effort to communicate is still not good enough. He said he attended the resident advisory board meeting and got the report but had no help interpreting it. He said CHA needs to go over the plan page by page with residents to make sure they understand.

"You got a lot of paper," said Clark. "But nobody knows what's on it."

He said CHA officials gave residents the papers and told them to look for any discrepancies.

"We don't know what we're looking at," said Clark. "It's like Shakespeare. A lot of people read it, but they don't understand it."

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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