Mayor Berke pushes for affordable housing program in 2014 budget - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mayor Berke pushes for affordable housing program in 2014 budget

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

As the Chattanooga city council mulls over Mayor Andy Berke's proposed budget, his administration hopes funding for affordable housing is approved. Berke wants to implement his 'affordable housing pilot program,' where city-owned, dilapidated property will be turned over to developers to build new homes.

"Since 2000, the price for renting has more than doubled the amount that income has grown in our city," says Mayor Berke.

As it stands now, 1,600 Chattanoogans are on the waiting list for Section 8 housing. And based on incomes in Hamilton County, thousands more need affordable housing.

Mayor Berke says he wants to spend $500,000 in the 2014 budget, on an affordable housing pilot program.

"We're taking this piece of property off the city rolls and we're putting it onto the tax rolls, which means it's generating income for this area," says Berke.

Berke says on top of generating income for the city, taking the old, empty, and often dirty lots and transforming them, will add value to the neighborhood.

Donna Williams is the administrator for the Department of Economic and Community Development. She will oversee the program. Developers would get the lots without paying for it. Grant money will also be available to help subsidize the construction.

"We want to be a much better neighbor and property owner than we've been in the past," says Williams.

"We want to be able to give back to the neighborhood," says Bobby Adamson.

Bobby Adamson is one of those potential developers. He has already built affordable housing in other areas of the city. A native of Chattanooga, he wants to breathe new life into the inner-city.

"I think it will help revitalize it. I think it helps people to know that they can raise their standards and come up and not stay in the same rut that they're in," says Adamson.

Berke says a timetable really depends on how quickly his budget is passed. He says as soon as that happens, the work will begin. Within the first year, his administration hopes to build up to 30 homes.

The city council is expected to meet again Tuesday to go over the proposed budget. It could be up for a first vote that same night.

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