In its 25th year of bolstering the community, Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise is building up its neighborhood-boosting efforts through several new and ongoing housing initiatives.
"Our hope is basically the same as our mission statement - we want to build sustainable home ownership in the Chattanooga area," said Elijah Parker, CNE Homeownership Center manager. "Really what we do as a focus of our organization is build strong communities ... and build a stronger Chattanooga."
A new program begun in early February called Police Fund will reward police officers who choose to buy and occupy a house within Chattanooga city limits with forgivable loans of up to $10,000 for down payment assistance.
Details are still being worked out, according to Parker, but additional incentives are available for those who relocate within a zone that stretches from Wilcox Boulevard to Dodds/Glenwood Avenue to Central Avenue. This encompasses the Avondale, Bushtown, Churchville, Glenwood, Orchard Knob, MLK and Ridgedale neighborhoods.
"All kinds of studies have been done that if a police officer is living in a community it makes the community safer overall," Parker said.
The city as a whole would also benefit by having police officers at the ready with their vehicles. Following a City Council vote last year, officers who live outside city limits are no longer allowed to take their police cars home with them.
A similar ongoing initiative called Geek Move is nearing its March 1 deadline. CNE has already received several applications for the related pot of $112,000 worth of forgivable loans of up to $10,000 for each "geek" willing to move to Chattanooga as part of the Gig Tank.
Part startup accelerator, part think tank, the Gig Tank aims to bring the best and brightest to town to help envision new ways to capitalize on having the fastest Internet available in the country.
"Basically it's a homeowner incentive we're using to attract new talent that qualifies as geeks while at the same time helping revitalize neighborhoods in Chattanooga," explained CNE Director of Strategic Initiatives Abby Garrison of the relocation assistance program, which includes up to $1,250 per applicant in additional funds to help offset moving expenses.
The neighborhoods include the same metro areas as covered by the Police Fund.
Garrison said that companies could also apply for the loans based on an open position within their company to use as a recruitment tool.
Both Geek Move and the Police Fund are on a first come, first served basis until the earmarked money runs out.