The Rev. Leroy and Gloria Griffith made a passionate plea Thursday for the city to consider a housing ordinance that would ensure that every public housing unit torn down be replaced and that a percentage of housing in new apartments built be set aside for people with low incomes.
They said it was out of concern for people who need housing, those living in hotels and the homeless.
City Council members Yusuf Hakeem and Moses Freeman said they were also concerned about the people. And so were Chattanooga Housing Authority representatives, but they all had different views concerning the Harriet Tubman Development and a proposed ordinance to provide affordable housing.
The Griffith family and the speakers were among more than 40 people participating in a heated housing discussion at the Avondale Recreation Center. The People's Coalition for Affordable Housing called Thursday's meeting after asking the housing authority to delay a decision about the sale of Tubman until all parties including the city and the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce participated in a conversation together.
Perrin Lance, co-founder of Chattanooga Organized for Action, moderated the event.
Freeman told the coalition that no housing ordinance was needed. He said that the city already had a plan for providing affordable housing that included putting single-family housing on the city's vacant properties and the city has set aside funding to do it.
Councilman Larry Grohn reminded the audience that more than 70 percent of voters elected Mayor Andy Berke, that he's only been in office for six months and they should give him opportunity to work his plan concerning affordable housing.
Hakeem cautioned the audience that they were being "hoodwinked and bamboozled" and that they were glorifying Tubman even though it was a place of high crime and poverty. He said it was HUD that decided to stop paying for repairs to large public housing sites, and if HUD wouldn't spend millions to repair the site, why do they think the city would. He argued the mayor was acting in the interest of the people when he suggested putting jobs on the site.
And finally housing authority officials spoke explaining that the Tubman property and all property managed by the housing authority is owned by HUD and that it is HUD that sets the housing standards. CHA executive director Betsy McCright said the property does not meet HUD guidelines.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at email@example.com or call 423-757-6431.