Chattanooga's eyesore properties to transform - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga's eyesore properties to transform

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Vacant, overgrown lots and abandoned, broken down homes can be spotted in neighborhoods throughout Chattanooga. They're eyesores that local leaders plan to transform into quality homes that are affordable for low-income families.

Hamilton County agreed this week to give the city dozens of tax delinquent properties for the pilot housing program. These 34 abandoned properties are sprinkled throughout the city. They've been on the books for back taxes for years. Now the Hamilton County Commission has voted unanimously to hand over full ownership to the city to add to its list of hundreds of pieces of land to be transformed.

"I grew up in this area a long time ago and i knew those houses when they were once here," Kenneth Brown said.

Kenneth Brown lives on North Hawthorne Street in East Chattanooga. The view from his front porch is an empty, overgrown lot. Some other nearby homes are still standing, at least partially, but aren't much to look at either with broken windows, peeled paint and rotting wood.

"You can have crime and people can knock the doors in and go in and then you have wild animals that are harboring in these places," Brown said.

Hamilton County Commissioners decided it best to give those 34 properties the city for a new affordable housing program. They'll either be renovated or rebuilt by local developers.

"It's going to be a great opportunity not just for the homeowner, but also for the city. It's going to clean up a blighted area. It's going to get it back on the tax roll. It's going to help these families become homeowners, a lot of them for the first time," Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham said.

It's all a part of Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke's plan he introduced and gained support for during his 2014 budget proposal. He said in addition to making the city look better, it will improve the lives of low income residents struggling to pay for decent places to live.

"Just like Harriet Tubman is closed down. Where did all those people go," Brown said.

"Thousands of folks who are in need of housing that they can afford either to purchase or rent," Chattanooga Economic & Community Development Administrator Donna Williams said back in August.

The mayor's office says qualifying as low income means making at least 80-percent less than Chattanooga's median family income of $58,000 a year. For a single person, that's a max of around $32,500 and for a family of four, $46,400.

The city has been working on training developers on the building specifications of the program this month. The application deadline for developers is this week. Then, there will be a lottery by the end of the month to determine who's up to bat first.
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