Chattanooga Mayor’s Administration proposes to use funds for COVID-related homeless shelter

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Chattanooga City Council Members are weighing a proposal by the Mayor’s administration to help provide immediate COVID-related shelter for the homeless population.

What they want to do is buy a hotel and make it a low-barrier emergency shelter managed by a non-profit.

“During this pandemic we’ve seen an increased need for indoor, non-congregate emergency shelter for individuals and households that don’t have a place to shelter, mostly people experiencing homelessness,” Director of Special Projects Tyler Yount told city council members during a committee meeting Tuesday.

Council members got a presentation on a proposed plan to use over one million dollars of federal COVID funds to buy a hotel to use as emergency shelter to focus on quarantining, isolating and providing a place for at-risk homeless.

“Qualifications for getting into the facility, since it’s strictly COVID-related, would that referral come through the health department,” Council Member Chip Henderson asked.

“They send referrals to us of people who need to be quarantined or isolated and then for the at-risk group. The Homeless Coalition manages a database so any time a street outreach worker or another person finds a person experiencing homelessness they do an assessment part of that assessment is their health risks and so we can easily pull a like of people who have underlying health conditions,” Yount said.

Beyond COVID, the city would consider continuing to use the shelter in the future as a low-barrier emergency shelter.

“I think the City of Chattanooga has done so many things in great strides to help our community and this is just one more thing to hang our hat on and be proud of,” Council Member Anthony Byrd said.

Council members have to approve resolutions connected to this plan including the use of the federal funds.

The administration wants to have the facility open by spring, summer of 2021.

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