East Chattanooga's Weed and Seed grant money has helped put people in jail but it hasn't put area residents in jobs, a local minister says.
"Weed and Seed is putting guys in jail, but it's not bringing employment opportunities," said the Rev. Dwight Harrison.
Mr. Harrison is hosting a meeting Monday to organize a group to find jobs for residents.
"We have high unemployment, and we want to bring solutions," he said. "We're going to need people who have an interest in helping us."
The unemployment rate in East Chattanooga increased from 11.1 percent in 2000 to 13.6 percent in 2008, according to the city's 2009 Neighborhood Stabilization Plan. More than half the area's households have an income of less than $25,000 a year, figures show.
"There are a whole lot of programs out there, but we're trying to bring more solutions," Mr. Harrison said.
In 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded a $1 million grant to the East Chattanooga Weed and Seed committee. Doled out over five years, the money is intended to alleviate crime in communities while starting programs for community improvement.
East Chattanooga Weed and Seed Chairman James Moreland said he welcomes all help that comes into the area. However, he said groups should communicate more with each other.
IF YOU GO
What: Community organizational meeting
When: 6 p.m. Monday
Where: Wesley Chapel Church, 1813 Wilson St.
Information: Call the Rev. Dwight Harrison at 320-3824.
"My thought is not reinventing the wheel but creating partnerships," he said. "Before you bring positive change, you have to see what's out there."
He said Weed and Seed officials talked with employers in an effort to get well-paying jobs for some residents, but the residents didn't have the work habits needed to keep them.
"We got some into positions, but they were late for work or didn't show up for work. Unfortunately, they didn't have the training to know how to keep (the jobs)," Mr. Moreland said.
He said Weed and Seed is working with Chattanooga State Community College to help residents who want employment to develop the habits needed to keep jobs when they get them.
"Our doors are open to anyone who can add value to what we're trying to do," Mr. Moreland said.