published Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

Chattanooga Housing Authority marketing to low-income and disabled

CHA Upward Mobility Program

• 20 adults participating in Fairmount

• 4 noncompliant residents at Fairmount

• 52 adults in the program at Maple Hills

• 5 people are noncompliant

The Chattanooga Housing Authority is required to make 5 percent of its new housing units handicap accessible, but when the housing agency went through the 550 applicants who applied to live at its two newest housing sites, no applicant needed one of those units.

CHA's Board of Commissioners voted this month to change its admissions policy from relying solely on a lottery system for selecting residents so it may fill the units at Fairmount Apartments in North Chattanooga and Maple Hills near East Chattanooga.

"When you write rules, it doesn't take long to find out that something doesn't work right, so you've got to go back and fix it," said Doug Wrinn, CHA's director of asset management.

Instead of using a lottery system to select residents, housing officials will start marketing directly to agencies like Siskin Hospital, Signal Centers and others for potential residents who have disabilities and need low-income housing.

CHA expects to get the units filled within a week, said CHA executive director Betsy McCright.

Of the 18 units at Fairmount, two of them are built for people with disabilities. One is suitable for a person in a wheelchair. The other has flashing lights and is intended for people with audio/visual disabilities.

There are four handicap accessible units at Maple Hills, including two with audio/visual features for vision- or hearing-impaired residents.

CHA officials also determined its Upward Mobility policy for Maple Hills Section 8 residents. The program requires that residents in certain sites commit to having a job and/ or furthering their education so that they may move toward self-sufficiency.

CHA had previously specified that public housing residents in Maple Hills who did not have a job or were not enrolled in school would be relocated to another public housing site. Residents not in a job-training program or in school would have 90 days to find employment before they are threatened with relocation. The only exception is for people 62 and older and the disabled.

CHA board members agreed this month that Section 8 tenants who moved into Maple Hills but did not get a job or enroll in school within 90 days could also be evicted.

Fifteen of the 48 units at Maple Hills are project-based Section 8. Thirty-three units are public housing.

"The penalty for not complying with Upward Mobility in a public housing unit is to transfer to another public housing unit that doesn't require Upward Mobility. But you can't just transfer people from the Section 8 program into public housing. So what's the penalty?" asked McCright. "It would not be to give them a mobile voucher because that would be reason to want to fail the program. So we just decided the best penalty would be termination from the program. We're hopeful that that is not going to happen but we had to have that in place."

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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