Mayor Berke signs executive order for Interagency Council on Hom - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mayor Berke signs executive order for Interagency Council on Homelessness

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

The issue of homelessness in Chattanooga and Hamilton County is a growing problem the mayor says he wants to tackle. 

Local organizations came together Monday to announce their new plan for change. 

"What we need to do is to bring our community together to solve the problem of homelessness," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said. 

Mayor Andy Berke signed an executive order Monday to establish a new Interagency Council on Homelessness. 

The council will include a number of different organizations on the front lines in Hamilton County, including law enforcement, area businesses, hospitals, mental health professionals and even someone who's been homeless and knows what it takes. 

The idea is to share resources, experiences and expertise so the council can work to develop solutions. 

 "Trying to come about it from a one size fits all approach just doesn't work," Sam Wolfe, Homeless Program Coordinator for the City of Chattanooga, said. 

Chattanooga's homeless population is in the thousands, with the Community Kitchen serving more than 600 people who are homeless on any given night. The non-profit also serves about 175,000 hot meals to more than 4,000 people in crisis each year.

The Salvation Army's shelter sees about 50 to 100 people each day, 

"I've worked in the homeless service community for five years now in the city, and I've seen the need for a body like this to exist," Wolfe said. 

Emergency services, housing and case management are a top priority. Wolfe says every idea is on the table.  

"We can work to address these concerns by improving the system in which people get housed," Wolfe explained.

A few years ago, the city formed a similar task force focused on ending veteran homelessness and to date, city officials say 360 veterans are now off the streets. 

Channel 3 spoke with some local nonprofit's who deal with the issue of homelessness each day, and they all say they're hopeful this new interagency council will create positive change. 

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