Chattanooga Organized for Action presents their affordable housing study today

Chattanooga Organized for Action presents their affordable housing study today

November 19th, 2012 by Yolanda Putman in Local Regional News

John Bridger, head of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Authority

John Bridger, head of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.


* What: Chattanooga- Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency housing study presentation and discussion

* When: 6-8 p.m. today

* Where: Battle Academy, 1601 S. Market St.

Six weeks after the Westside Community Association and Chattanooga Organized for Action presented their housing study, the Chattanoga-Hamilton Regional Planning Agency is coming forward with a report of its own.

It's the second part of the conversation about addressing the need for affordable housing, said planning agency Executive Director John Bridger.

Tonight's conversation will feature an even broader spectrum of people than the first, said Bridger. A 15-member panel including developers, bankers, Realtors and residents will discuss the need for affordable housing.

The conversation also will include local government officials, nonprofit representatives, the Chattanooga Housing Authority and affordable housing advocates.

Michael Gilliland, who presented the Westside study, will be a panelist.

He said he would like to see more concrete information about affordable housing and the people who need it.

So far there's been no definition of affordability, nor any definition of low-income people or a plan to help them, said Gilliland.

Bridger will present the study and discussion today at Battle Academy.

The yearlong study affirms many concerns raised in the Westside Community Association study, said Bridger.

The Westside study noted that more than 25 percent of renters in the city's urban core pay more than half of their income for housing and nearly half of homeowners live in unaffordable housing.

The biggest difference between the studies is the planning agency's recommended solution, Bridger said.

Instead of having an inclusionary zone and mandating developers to provide more housing, as suggested in the Westside association's study, the planning agency suggests guiding developers toward affordable housing with positive and negative reinforcements.

That would include density bonuses and "a basket full of incentives" to provide affordable housing, and fees paid to other affordable housing organizations for not providing it, Bridger said.

City Councilwoman Sally Robinson said she looks forward to attending the meeting.

She'd like to discuss using foreclosed properties as affordable housing. Instead of allowing the buildings to sit vacant, they could be sold at a lower cost. It would stop families from being put on the streets and having families maintaining the home will prevent the deterioration of neighborhoods, Robinson said.

Bridger said he started his study about a year ago at the City Council's request. The goal was to see if the city's housing policies were consistent with the trend toward renting rather than buying homes.

The planning agency will take include resident feedback in a study report and action plan that will probably go to the City Council in January, Bridger said.