Six agencies provide housing to the homeless

Six agencies provide housing to the homeless

November 4th, 2012 by Yolanda Putman in Local Regional News

Seen making breakfast Tuesday for her daughters, Ah'mya Hancock, 1, and Alandria Hancock, 2, seated, Brittany Hancock moved into an apartment at the College Hill Courts last Friday through the Family Promise Rapid Rehousing program.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

TO PARTICIPATE

Anyone who is homeless and interested in getting housing can call Family Promise's Centralized Intake Program Case Manager Dot Saunders at 756-3891.

A 21-year-old homeless mother of two toddlers bounced from residence to residence for two years before she made a call to a Family Promise caseworker.

In less than two months, she found more permanent housing.

Brittany Hitchcock is among the first of 20 formerly homeless families who will be housed in the College Hill Courts public housing complex as the result of a partnership involving a half-dozen organizations.

This year, Family Promise, a local nonprofit focused on the homeless, created a rapid rehousing program that combined its services with those of five other local agencies -- Room in the Inn, the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition, Joe Johnson Mental Health, CBL and the Chattanooga Housing Authority.

The housing authority is providing the 20 units of housing and 15 one- and two-bedroom apartments are still available. CHA officials said they want to have the apartments filled as soon as possible.

Participants must meet CHA requirements and pay rent based on income or a flat-rate rent. They also must agree to take part in an individualized program that helps them with financial management and maintaining their new home. Family Promise provides a case manager to help them and, at the end of the program period -- which runs from six months to a year -- the family graduates and is allowed to remain in the apartment.

Hitchcock landed an apartment after talking to her state Department of Human Services caseworker about being homeless while reapplying for her food stamps. The caseworker connected her with Family Promise Case Manager Dot Saunders, and, in less than 60 days, Hitchcock had housing.

And the housing wasn't just an empty building. Corporate partner CBL provided Hitchcock and her two daughters with food and furniture, including living room sofas, a flats-creen TV, a Dora the Explorer bedroom suite, a small kitchen table and hanging pictures.

It feels like being at her grandmother's house, said Hitchcock, but living at College Hill is better because it's her own home.

She had been homeless for two years. She never experienced living outdoors because her mother or her grandmother always took her in, but whenever there was an argument, she had to move to another place, she said.

Not having a permanent place made it harder to keep a work routine and go to school, and also required her to be stricter on her children than she would normally be, Hitchcock said.

"Now they can play and run around without getting on someone's nerves," she said. "They have free time because they've got their own place."