Chattanooga Slashed Homelessness in Half in 2023

The city’s focus on assistance for households at risk of eviction and supportive housing helped keep more residents housed.

1 minute read

February 13, 2024, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of Chattanooga, Tennessee with two bridges over river in background.

Kevin Ruck / Adobe Stock

While the homeless population in most of the country grew over the last year, Chattanooga, Tennessee managed to reduce homelessness in the region by 49 percent compared to 2022.

As Kalena Thomhave explains in Smart Cities Dive, “Advocates in Chattanooga attribute the region’s success to several strategies, including a focus on providing housing, eviction prevention, and collaboration among service providers to target resources to vulnerable populations.”

The city currently has 200 units of supportive housing primarily aimed at people experiencing chronic homelessness. Its Eviction Prevention Initiative, meanwhile, offers assistance to tenants at risk of eviction by paying back rent, moving costs, and legal costs. “The goal is to help renters stay in their homes rather than force them into alternative accommodations like moving in with a family member, sleeping at a homeless shelter, or no housing at all.”

Like other experts, Steve Berg, chief policy officer at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, says homelessness is ultimately a housing problem. To prevent households from falling into homelessness or spending the majority of their income on housing, Chattanooga and other cities must encourage housing development that keeps up with demand.

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