published Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Chattanooga Housing Authority calls for group housing for men

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    Betsy McCright is executive director of the Chattanooga Housing Authority.
    Photo by Jake Daniels.
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WHERE TO CALL

For more information concerning project-based vouchers for special needs populations contact the housing authority at 423-668-2374 or email bmccright@chahousing.org.

The YMCA wants to operate a group home for men who need social services and is asking the Chattanooga Housing Authority to help pay for it.

"It may be people who have had trouble with the courts because of drug or alcohol problems," said Rick Madison, chief operating officer of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga. "They may be estranged from their families, so we're providing not only housing but case management and support services to help them get into counseling, get jobs and get back on their feet."

Madison was among nearly a dozen agency representatives and developers attending a meeting this month to discuss using guaranteed vouchers to provide housing for special-needs populations.

This a great opportunity for landlords to assist in expanding subsidized housing opportunities and it's a tremendous way for landlords to secure financing for new development and for rehabilitation of older homes, said CHA Executive Director Betsy McCright.

Furthermore, it's guaranteed income for the landlord for the next 15 years, she said. The income is guaranteed because the voucher is based on the housing unit. So even if the tenant moves, the funding stays with the housing unit, she said.

The housing authority is calling on landlords and developers willing to house low-income people with special needs to submit a request for proposal by Sept. 6. McCright said the deadline will be extended if landlords need more time.

The AIM Center, which provides psychiatric rehabilitation services, people with Asperger's Syndrome who need living assistance, the Council for Alcohol & Drug Abuse Services and Pathways which seeks housing for young adults in foster care are among the agencies that have contacted the housing authority seeking housing for special needs populations, said McCright.

"There is no place for kids to go when they age out of the (foster care) system," said McCright. "It's a collection of people in need (of housing)."

Amy Kerin knows first hand how difficult it is for a person with special needs to find housing. It took her 15 years to find housing that accommodated her in her wheelchair.

"Everywhere I called said yes when asked if they have a handicap-accessible apartment, but when you get there you have to step up into the apartment, the countertops are too high and they don't have a proper stove," said Kerin, who eventually had a house made to accommodate her. She has spina bifida and spends nearly all of her time in a wheelchair.

Without lower countertops and stoves built into the wall, people in wheelchairs are more likely to have accidents and get burned when cooking, she said.

When landlords say they have handicap-accessible units, most mean that they have a handicap parking space and doors wide enough for a wheelchair, Kerin said. There is a tremendous need for affordable housing for people with disabilities, she said.

Landlords and developers have three categories in which to apply for the project-based program at the Chattanooga Housing Authority.

They may apply for existing housing, for housing that needs rehabilitation or for new development. CHA wants all of the housing completed and occupied by June 2014, said McCright.

Carter Clements, chief executive officer and founder of Re3H Inc., said he plans to submit a proposal for new development to house people with special needs. Madison said he will submit a proposal to house men in a Central Avenue residence that the Y already owns.

And Ursula Edwards, owner of Quality Lifestyle Services Inc., will apply for vouchers to assist the mentally disabled and seniors in existing housing.

"There are so many people who need help," said Edwards. "I get referrals almost every day, people calling to find placement for people coming out of the hospital who are already homeless."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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