Chattanooga A Top Homeless Destination
They travel from as far away as Texas, Michigan and New York to live in tent cities in Chattanooga.
Many come in search of work and a better future and two charities are doing all they can to help.
Alan Cantrell is the founder of Scenic City Ark and every Sunday for nearly 2 years his team voluntarily feed between 300 and 400 of our city’s hungry.
Alan Cantrell,"If we don’t time it just right sometimes they get a bit antsy and some will try and cut line and bickering and arguing and we either have to break it up or make them leave."
His team of more than 30 including security is made up of families, veterans and college students but all have one thing in common, their faith.
Pastor George Nixon, Retired Military."We are not snake handlers we are food handlers".
By 2pm crews are in place cooking hundreds of hot dogs in East Ridge while others head to East 11th street to get the Sunday lunch tables ready.
Chattanooga’s homeless all have different stories of struggle.
Mark,Homeless, "It’s very important you know if it wasn’t for Christians to fill in the gaps sometimes when it comes to food a lot of folks would go hungry".
Eric Clarke,Homeless,"Chattanooga was a better place for me now I can’t say that for everybody else, just believe in your faith man and follow the yellow brick road".
But one of those being helped is a true success story.
Tree Smith has spent a decade on the streets.
Tree Smith,"My truck throw a rod, it broke down, all my tools got stolen, it got towed and left me with nothing".
Helped by Scenic City Ark and ministry Relevant Hope he has got his life back on track.
He works at Koch’s bakery on Broad Street and has moved into this house.
But what do Chattanoogans think of the Scenic City emerging as a top homeless destination.
Avis Pleasant, Chattanooga,"I do think that sometimes when someone has an issue that helping them too much can be a thing but I don’t think it’s ever wrong to feed someone."
Christopher Brewer, Chattanooga,"It’s unfortunate that other cities aren’t taking care of the people and that their people are coming to us but it does speak volumes for our southern hospitality"
Tree believes the support he’s received in Chattanooga saved his life.
Tree Smith,"If you give up, then you have already lost.".