City of Chattanooga Proposes Funding Immediate Enclosed Encampment for City’s Homeless

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – The city of Chattanooga is hoping to set up an enclosed encampment off 12th Street for the city’s growing homeless population.

“We’re really just trying to come in with an innovative solution that we’ve seen other communities do that we know works and can be a quick response to the problem,” says Sam Wolfe who is the Director of Homelessness and Supportive Housing for the City of Chattanooga.

The funding comes from emergency relief and Wolfe say it’s already set aside. “Anywhere from $60,000 to $90,000 for one year of operation.”

The price tag will cover fencing around the encampment, port-a-potties, running water, and a case worker to monitor the site and do intakes. Tents and other supplies will be provided.

“Because the costs are so low for us, it allows us to have an immediate response to a very dire need of unsheltered homelessness in our community,” says Wolfe.

He says they are modeling this encampment after a successful one in Denver. He says the encampment will have 120 ten foot by ten foot spots for each individual, with the possibility to expand the encampment into surrounding areas.

“We like that it gives people experiencing homelessness some facilities, some facilities that will provide decency for them. Bathroom facilities, storage lockers, to securely put their stuff in a place where there is security so they can feel safe. They will have places to put their garbage so there should be a sense of decency and we like that,” says Wendy Winters who is the Executive Director for the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition.

The Homeless Coalition reports the region’s homeless population grew by 80 percent last year. Winters says stable housing – and beyond what a camp can provide – is the first step in getting people out of chronic homelessness.

“Our area definitely has experienced a rise in people experiencing homelessness and the only thing that solves that is housing. Housing solves homelessness and that’s it.”

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