By: Paige Pertuit
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) According to Chattanooga Housing Study of 2013 there are three factors that are changing housing needs for citizens of Chattanooga. It includes a combination of the Great Recession, extreme changes in household type over the past few decades and the growing influence the Baby Boomers and Generation Y.
The Great Recession has had a major impact on “the financial capacity of households to obtain affordable housing: nationally family net worth actually declined 40% between 2007 and 2010,” said Regional Planning Agency in their report. Between 2000 and 2010 family incomes increased at only half the rate of housing expenses.
Although Chattanooga’s housing plan puts detached single-family houses as their primary housing choice option, the Baby Boomers and Generation Y represent over 60% of the population presenting a higher demand for apartments and smaller homes.
Chattanooga has a decreasing amount of undeveloped subdivision lots, but also has a large number of vacant lots scattered around the City. “However,” said the Housing Study, “many of these lots are located in neighborhoods that will require revitalization intervention activity to make them attractive for redevelopment.”
Although housing affordability has an impact on all income levels, it is more of a struggle among those with lower incomes.
“More than 37,000 households in Chattanooga make less than $35,000 a year,” said Yuen Lee, RPA director of information and research. In attempt to aide these people Chattanooga Housing Authority recently issued 100 housing vouchers to those in need of a home, but there are still about 5,000 on the waiting list.
“Sixty or 70 percent of households that make less than $30,000 are spending more than 30 percent on housing, which is considered, that’s over what’s recommended nationally,” said Chattanooga Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency Executive Director John Bridger.
City Council Chair Pam Ladd said, “You’ve got to make sure the housing that we have for low income has all the other elements of success: transportation, grocery stores, schools. It’s got to be a tighter environment.”
In regards to the Chattanooga Housing Study, Councilman Peter Murphy said “I know that there are great needs out there that can be addressed. This will help us identify those and proceed intelligently.”
WRBC quoted Betsy McCright, Executive Director of the Chattanooga Housing Authority saying “Many, many, many of our residents are working people. They’re serving you in the restaurant you go to, they’re cleaning up when you leave a hotel. They’re good people and they have the same desires as non low income people, to have a place to raise your family, get your kids a good education and just have a home you can be proud of,” said McCright.