Planners calling for codes changes, housing task force

Planners calling for codes changes, housing task force

February 26th, 2013 by Yolanda Putman in Local Regional News

Chattanooga City Councilman Peter Murphy.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency will present the final Chattanooga Housing Study report to the City Council during the council's Housing Committee meeting at 3 p.m. at the City Council Chambers today.

To view the report go to www.chcrpa.org/HousingStudy.htm.

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

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

City codes regulating housing should be updated to reflect changing needs, and a housing task force should be established to set goals and make sure housing needs for more people are met, according to a report by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency.

The planning agency will present the final Chattanooga housing report to City Council members today.

"I know that there are great needs out there that can be addressed," Councilman Peter Murphy said. "This will help us identify those and proceed intelligently."

In Chattanooga, more than 77 percent of people with incomes less than $20,000 and 51 percent of households with incomes of $20,000 to $34,999 are spending beyond their means for housing, according to the study.

Having a housing task force could ensure that recommendations for more affordable housing will be implemented. And the task force could give feedback to the Regional Planning Agency about the plan's progress.

"I want to emphasize that this is a report and is not a formal policy. I also want to emphasize that the report recommendations have not materially changed from the housing summit," wrote Regional Planning Agency Executive Director John Bridger in an email.

The Westside Community Association and Chattanooga Organized for Action called its housing summit in October 2012 after releasing a study stating that half of the renters in Chattanooga's urban core live in houses that they can't afford.

In November the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency hosted a discussion on housing with a panel including developers, low-income housing representatives and bankers.

The planning agency's final housing study report recommends that policymakers consider amending city codes to allow single apartments within houses as a way to reduce home ownership costs.

The Chattanooga City Council requested that the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency conduct a study to assess the city's housing market.

"The perceived concern was that current plans/policies/code requirements may be discouraging infill housing development, particularly moderate to high density development," according to the housing report.