Shelter looking for new plan to house homeless this winter
On any given night, upwards of 200 homeless people in Chattanooga are looking for a place to stay.
Most of those people end up at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen. It may be Summer, but the director is already having to come up a new game plan for the winter months due to lack of funding.
The Chattanooga Homeless Coalition helps organizations in the area obtain funding. Last year, it helped secure $75,000 from the city of Chattanooga for the Community Kitchen. That money made a big difference in providing an emergency shelter on cold winter nights. But this year, no one with the Coalition applied, so the kitchen is missing out on that money.
"It's going it make it more difficult to provide services, emergency shelter services for the homeless, not having that money," says Charlie Hughes, Executive Director of the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.
Hughes says he is not pointing fingers because the kitchen did not receive $75,000 from the city this year.
"It just happened, one of those fall through the crack kind of things."
He just says the money gave the organization a glimpse of what providing full services to the homeless would look like during the harsh winter months.
"We were able to be open every night, as opposed to only those cold nights, which helped us set up a system and a routine," says Hughes.
"I think we were approached by the city last year. There were some funds available," says Stephen Wright, Executive Director of the Chattanooga Homeless Coalition.
Wright says last year was the first time it applied for funds from the city.
"I was board member at that time. So my understanding was, it was probably a one time thing. So when the application deadline rolled around in January, I guess it wasn't anyone's opinion that an application needed to be made," says Wright.
"The feeling I get from the general public is, it's taken care of," says Hughes.
Hughes says while The Community Kitchen will miss that money, it has been able to operate without it before. But that still does not mean it can not receive more help from the community. He says the center is full of success stories.
"We have people on staff, half of those are homeless or formerly homeless," says Hughes.
"It takes a loving caring heart to look past the outside and look inward," says Mary Lakes.
Lakes is one of those success stories. She was a struggling alcoholic with no place to call home.
"I couldn't imagine three and half years ago, I hated to see daylight and everything. Now I can't wait to see a new day," says Lakes.
Now she works full time at the day center as a receptionist.
"They save lives here. Real lives," says Lakes.
The Community Kitchen is always taking donations from the public.
We checked with the mayor's office and a spokesperson says it is too late to submit a budget request, but that the city council handles all requests from agencies. Wright says the Coalition is considering approaching the council for possible funding.