'Don't panic,' CHA urges residents of Dogwood Manor

'Don't panic,' CHA urges residents of Dogwood Manor

October 17th, 2012 by Yolanda Putman in Local Regional News

Dogwood Manor is located at 959 Gateway Ave. in Chattanooga.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Dogwood Manor residents had a lot of questions about the pending relocation from their public housing apartments.

Chattanooga Housing Authority representatives had few answers.

"We're not trying to be vague," Tammie Reeves, CHA's Housing Choice Voucher Program director, told a group of more than 70 Dogwood Manor residents Tuesday. "The reason for this meeting today is to let you know you're not going to be uprooted next week. You're not going to be uprooted next month."

CHA officials want to buy Dogwood Manor from the city and, if successful, they plan to do a $4.5 million renovation that will call for residents to relocate.

Reeves said she and CHA relocation specialist Ann Martin hope to gather more details about the relocation in meetings scheduled over the next few weeks. They said they'll have more information to share with residents when they meet with them again in mid-November.

On Tuesday, one Dogwood Manor resident said CHA representatives should have waited until after the meetings before addressing residents.

"[Information is] coming," Martin said. "We just don't want [residents] to panic."

CHA Executive Director Betsy McCright said the housing authority is scheduled to have a potential closing on the Dogwood Manor building on Oct. 24. CHA only needs approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development field office in Nashville to make the purchase official, she said.

She said CHA plans to meet with residents one-on-one to discuss housing options if CHA closes on the purchase.

If the renovations take place, some residents will be relocated inside the Dogwood Manor building, while others may have to move out completely, said CHA officials.

"If we're displaced in the building, can we have the option of moving back into our same apartment?" one man asked.

"Right now I'd say 'no,'" Martin responded. "It's difficult to make a commitment because we don't know when your unit will be ready."

Another man asked if a resident moved outside of the building, would he or she be able to move back when the renovation is complete. CHA officials said they didn't know.

Everyone who must move because of the renovation will receive some financial assistance from the housing authority, officials said. However, if residents move before a relocation plan is in place, they will not be eligible for relocation assistance.