Plan presented to Chattanooga City Council to improve affordable housing options
Chattanooga is growing.
Donna Williams tracks those trends in the Office of Economic and Community Development. She says Chattanooga's population has increased seven percent in just the last decade.
"The reality is when you have a growing economy, and really low unemployment, it sounds really good, and it is really good," said Williams.
Not even a good economy can create some challenges.
"It means that we may have rising home costs, rising rent costs, and stagnant wages depending on what you do," said Williams.
It can be hard to find affordable housing. That goes for low-income residents and those making an average income. According to 2017 census data, the median household income in Chattanooga is $41,911.
"Affordable housing really specifically speaks to, if you are paying more than 30 percent of your income for housing then you are technically house burdened," said Williams.
Williams has spent the last few months working a team to learn more about affordable housing availability and need in Chattanooga. She presented the findings to City Council members this week, including over 50 recommendations for how to help Chattanoogans, find and create affordable housing.
Among the ideas, a database for people to search for housing they can afford, the website they're looking at is already in use in Portland, Oregon.
"The majority of housing is not online, so we are going to be investigating a one-stop shop if you will," said Williams.
Some recommendations are already in place, like incentives for developers. In some building across the city of Chattanooga, you can qualify for a lower rent based on your income.
"So what we do is offer them incentives to help them be able to afford to take a lower rent from tenant A as opposed to take the regular rent from tenant B," said Williams.
The best way to find out if a housing complex offers a reduced rate is by sharing your income and asking for the option before moving in.
Williams said the 50 recommendations taken to the city council are all in different phases, but she hopes to roll out affordable housing assistance options as quickly as possible.