Chattanooga city officials plan first Affordable Housing Fund
Mayor Berke announced that plan in Thursday night's State of the City address, but Channel 3 wanted to know how that money would be used and in what neighborhoods.
Chattanooga's mayor wants $1 million to help provide affordable housing options across the city.
He announced that plan in Thursday night's State of the City address, but Channel 3 wanted to know how that money would be used and in what neighborhoods.
According to Mayor Andy Berke's Chief of Staff, Kerry Hayes, the city is still trying to figure that out.
Here's his statement:
"The Berke administration is enormously proud of Chattanooga's positive economic trajectory over the last several years, and we're committed to doing what we can to continue this remarkable growth. However, as the Mayor stated in his State of the City address, Chattanooga's economic growth also means that the costs of living are growing as well. Those who have been left out of the city's growing prosperity risk falling farther behind, as more and more of their income is absorbed by rent and transportation expenses. Left unaddressed, even with Chattanooga's rising wages, more people will find it increasingly difficult to remain in the neighborhood of their choosing and build wealth. We know our community obviously needs more affordable housing, particularly near our major employment centers.
Chattanooga is a city of creators, and we know that we can create opportunities for equity, ownership, and wealth-building in neighborhoods throughout Chattanooga. The $1 million commitment that Mayor Berke intends to make to the new affordable housing trust fund is an unprecedented commitment by local government to support our city's continued development while mitigating some of the unintended consequences it may have on families at the lower end of our economic spectrum. Our next steps will be to determine specifically where and how we can efficiently partner with local nonprofit agencies, private developers, and members of the community to apply these dollars in a way that produces the greatest value and protects affordability for the largest number of Chattanoogans. It is our intent to maximize every penny of this new fund in a way that creates a safe and stable Chattanooga for everyone. We can be a city that gets growth right."
Keller Williams realtor, Justin Tate says he agrees that something needs to change to ensure as the city grows people can afford to live in the Scenic City. Tate says as people move here, they're looking at some of the most popular spots, which includes St. Elmo, North Chattanooga, the foot of Lookout Mountain and downtown.
"This market is on fire and it's a significant difference than there was 10 years ago," said Tate. "When you're thinking of North Chattanooga and you have a family and you're trying to get into a good new school system or maybe at St. Elmo; you're in the upper 10% financially in order to afford to live down there in my opinion."
Tate says the average apartment in Chattanooga costs $900 a month; renting a home costs about $1,500 dollars a month.
"Real estate prices are only going to increase. They may level off week after week here and there, but this time next year we can expect to see a three to eight percent increase at least; if not more."
It's what Mayor Berke hopes to address that through the city's first Affordable Housing Fund.
"It's going to benefit the real estate market in some way, form or another, but you may have mixed opinions depending on who you're asking," said Tate. "I trust they have a vision for where this is going and that there leading us in a positive direction."
We spoke to several city council members who say they learned about this idea with us during the State of the City Address. The fund is part of Mayor Berke's proposed budget. City council will have to approve it. If they do, it's still not clear how the money will be used.