One-third in Chattanooga struggle with housing costs, study finds

One-third in Chattanooga struggle with housing costs, study finds

February 26th, 2013 by Lindsay Burkholder in Local - Breaking News

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

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

According to a Housing Study by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency, nearly one-third of Chattanooga area residents struggle with the cost of housing.

The study proposed neighborhood revitalization and new housing developments as a way to combat Chattanooga's housing difficulties.

"The whole idea is to turn the community back into some kind of wholesome place to live," said Beverly Johnson, administrator of Chattanooga's Neighborhood Services.

Planning agency Executive Director John Bridger presented the study, the culmination of a yearlong research project, to the Chattanooga City Council on Tuesday night.

Bridger proposed the formation of a task force to approach four elements which the study identified: urban housing, suburban housing, affordability and regulatory reform. He advised the council that they come up with a plan of attack, including short- and long-term goals.

"What are some things that we can go ahead and get executed before the end of the year? There are some short-term wins that we can achieve," said Bridger. "And what are those high-impact actions that are going to take some work?"

Council members were supportive of Bridger's proposals.

"I think this is the most profound and pragmatic study since I've been on the council," said Councilman Jack Benson.

"This could have some real spin-off effects in reducing crime. ... Where the neighborhood goes, crime goes a lot of times and so many things that can come from improving the neighborhood situation, the housing situation."

The council expects to begin work on the task force after the upcoming elections.

"There are some recommended action steps that will follow including the consideration of this council. ... This will be a wonderful planning document for our city as we go forward," Councilwoman Sally Robinson said.

Contact staff writer Lindsay Burkholder at lburkholder@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.