Westside residents petition city over public housing - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Westside residents petition city over public housing

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- One Chattanooga neighborhood is spreading its message to save public housing. The Westside Community Association along with Chattanooga Organized for Action started the "Public Housing is Not For Sale" campaign this weekend and is passing around a petition to present to the city.

Hundreds of public housing units have been torn down in Chattanooga over the last several years. Next month more than 400 units will add to that with the Harriet Tubman Development being vacated and put up for sale. Now people living in the remaining units are taking their ideas to the city.

"I'm going to continue to fight for public housing because I think it's right and I think it's necessary," Gloria Griffith with the Westside Community Association said.

Gloria Griffith is over the Westside Community Association. She's collecting signatures on a petition asking the city to do three things when it comes to public housing-- rebuild any units torn down, replace all of those lost in the last decade and include low-income housing in any new developments.

"It's hard to find something that is decent to live in and affordable that you'd be wanting your children to live at," Griffith said.

"Take me for instance. I get $767 a month," Westside resident Karl Epperson said.

Westside resident Karl Epperson is one of 500 people to sign the petition this weekend.

"I'd like to see anybody else try and get by on that, so that's why we need these places that have subsidized rent," Epperson said.

The Westside community is on Mayor Ron Littlefield's short list of neighborhoods he wants Atlanta-based Purpose Built Communities to revitalize. The plan would include tearing old buildings down to start fresh and is considering College Hill Courts, which is the largest public housing site in the city.

"We want the city fathers to have a heart and think about its people," Griffith said.

Griffith understands money is tight for the Chattanooga Housing Authority, but with the number people needing low-income housing already out-numbering the available units, she and other residents think there are ways the city can make sure the need is met.

"They have a right to have a place to live and the government it's their duty to see that right is given. They're the people who own the land," Griffith said.

City council will have to vote to hire Purpose Built Communities and it could take a couple months before that happens. The Westside community plans to present the petition to the city April 3 with a goal of 5,000 signatures.

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