Homeless woman severely burned in homeless camp

Local official says homelessness issues run deep in Chattanooga

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — A fire at a local downtown homeless camp has left one woman with 15% of her body covered in severe burns.

Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched Wednesday night after receiving a call about the burn victim at 1503 Middle St.

The victim was a homeless woman.

Wendy Winters, the executive director of the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition, wasn’t surprised.

“One of the things that our Homeless Responses Outreach workers have noticed is an increase in women experiencing homelessness,” Winters said.”That’s not surprising to us, as we have that lack of affordable housing and women fleeing domestic violence, or other dangerous situations, [who] don’t have units in which to seek safety in.”

Winters said that not only have more women become homeless in Chattanooga this past year, but the city’s homeless population also grew 80% in 2021.

“Any time that someone has been unhoused, out in the elements, then they’re going to be at higher risk for activities that [are] going to cause trauma,” Winters said.

Winters attested that the city’s rise in homelessness is related to a rise in rent and housing costs, as well as a lack of affordable housing.

She encouraged community support by having residents take the issue to their elected officials, as well as friendly engagement and compassion from landlords.

“I can’t say it enough,” Winters said. “We need more affordable housing. Housing is the only thing that’s going to solve homelessness.”

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News

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