Westside Community Association hosts housing summit

Westside Community Association hosts housing summit

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

Karl Epperson and his service dog Rocky listen as Courtney Knapp, an urban planner with Westside Chattanooga, speaks on behalf of Chattanooga Organized for Action at the future site of Walnut Commons apartments during a news conference concerning the lack of affordable housing in downtown Chattanooga.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.


What: Summit on affordable housing

When: 6-8 p.m. Monday

Where: Renaissance Presbyterian Church, 1211 Boynton Drive

Everyone has a right to affordable housing, and there is no reason for that right to be denied, the Rev. Leroy Griffith insists.

To drive home that point, Griffith and his group, the Westside Community Association, will host a summit Monday to discuss solutions to Chattanooga's housing needs. The summit also is sponsored by Chattanooga Organized for Action and the Grove Street Settlement House.

Members of the Chattanooga City Council, Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, River City Co. and the Regional Planning Agency have been invited to attend, Griffith said Wednesday. The summit is free and open to the public.

According to a recent study, more than half the renters in Chattanooga's urban core live in houses they can't afford, paying more than half their income for housing, said Griffith, secretary of the Westside Community Association. The urban core includes neighborhoods such as Hill City, St. Elmo, the Westside, East Lake, Orchard Knob, Glenwood and Highland Park.

Nearly 7,000 people also are on the Chattanooga Housing Authority's waiting list for Section 8, or low-income, public housing, according to CHA. Another 125 people have Section 8 vouchers but can't find landlords who will rent to them.

The Westside Community Association's proposed solution is its Affordable Housing Ordinance, which asks that 10 percent of all housing units in the urban core be dedicated to low-income families. The ordinance is based on similar legislation found in more than 200 cities and two states, according to a Westside Community Association news release.

If the ordinance were in place, new housing projects such as City Green, Hayden Place, Walnut Commons and others would have 83 units dedicated to low-income residents, said Courtney Knapp, a housing and economic development planner and COA member.

The City Council is scheduled to hold its first reading of the Affordable Housing Ordinance on Tuesday.