In 2021, the City of Chattanooga announced the launch of its “One Chattanooga Relief and Recovery” process and plan, designed to provide substantial monetary relief from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to help our city emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the $38.6 million total in funding, the majority — $30 million — is being spent through a framework devised by the Equitable Recovery Commission, with the remainder spent on other projects such as permanent supportive housing.
On July 8, 2022, after a structured application and technical review process, the Kelly administration announced the intent to invest $30 million in ARPA funding in 36 innovative, community-based initiatives. The final ARPA spending plan was approved by City Council approval on July 26, 2022.
This funding provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to stimulate long-term prosperity in Chattanooga. With a $30 million investment in transformative and catalytic community-based initiatives, we will begin removing the persistent barriers that have created and sustained inequities in Chattanooga for far too long, creating a more just and prosperous future for all who call our city home.
Funding by Priority Area
Homeslessness Prevention and Recovery:
The long-term solution to homelessness is a home, and the City is investing $5.3 million in three initiatives that together will help prevent homelessness, and transition residents experiencing homelessness into permanent housing.
$2.84 million will go toward development of a new low barrier shelter.
Step Up on Second Street will receive $1.5 million to provide supportive housing services.
$1 million will go toward the Eviction Prevention Initiative, which helps prevent costly and traumatizing evictions, keeping residents in their homes.
Affordable Homeownership and Home Repairs:
Housing prices in Chattanooga have risen at a rapid and unsustainable rate. While the average family has seen a wage increase of 23% since 2015, housing costs have climbed more than 80%. The City is investing $1.56 million in three initiatives that will help create affordable homeownership opportunities for first-time buyers and help elderly and vulnerable homeowners stay in their homes.
The Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise will receive $1 million to create a purchase-rehab-resale program that will create at least 20 affordable homeownership opportunities for mid and low-income buyers.
The City of Chattanooga’s Department of Community Development and World Changers Chattanooga will receive $500,000 and $60,000, respectively, to help fund home repair projects needed to prevent vulnerable residents’ homes from potentially being condemned due to plumbing, electrical, or other priority structural issues.
Affordable Rental Housing Creation:
Median housing prices have increased 80.7 percent since 2015, leaving 43 percent of renters defined as “housing burdened,” or spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. The City is investing $5.8M in four initiatives to increase the availability of affordable homes, creating more than 230 new affordable rental units.
Kingdom Partners’ Housing Development Group will receive $1.8 million to create 30 new affordable rental units and catalyze additional new affordable housing projects through partnerships with faith-based and other nonprofit organizations.
The Greater Tucker Community Development Corporation will receive $1.5 million to create a new affordable housing community with 63 units for vulnerable seniors.
The AIM Center and Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise will receive $1.5 million and $1 million, respectively, to create 143 units for low-income families, including 15 reserved specifically for residents who are chronically homeless and have a mental health diagnosis.
Workforce Development Initiatives:
One of the best antidotes to poverty is a living-wage job, and the Kelly administration is committed to ensuring every resident can access the economic opportunity Chattanooga provides. The City is investing $5.9 million in four new workforce development initiatives that will help provide direct pathways to stable careers for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
$2.9 million will go toward the City’s partnership with Hamilton County Schools on a new skill-building and workforce readiness initiative.
The Urban League of Chattanooga will receive $1.5 million to help low wage or non-credentialed workers of color gain credentials in high growth industries, such as healthcare and information technology.
The Enterprise Center will receive $1.5 million to expand low/no-cost broadband connectivity to low-income households across the city, opening their access to enrollment in reskilling programs.
Expanding Local Access to Entrepreneurship:
Chattanooga has emerged as a global entrepreneurship and innovation hub, and closing gaps in economic opportunity means ensuring minority-owned startups have access to resources that will help their new businesses thrive. The City is investing $2.9 million in five new initiatives that will help expand access to resources for local entrepreneurs of color, helping close long-standing opportunity gaps.
$1.4 million will go toward development of a City-led minority business resource center to provide technical assistance and access to capital for minority entrepreneurs.
CO.LAB will receive $800,000 to help develop a new Founder’s Fund that will provide direct investments to help scale minority-owned startups and small businesses.
The Net Resource Foundation will receive $250,000 to help revitalize the long-neglected Alton Park business district.
Public Safety and Youth Engagement:
Youth programming is critical to leading vulnerable young people away from violence and toward positive, sustainable behavior and opportunity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, youth mentorship is one of the most effective strategies for reducing violence because it increases factors that protect against it, such as staying in school and demonstrating prosocial behaviors. The City is investing an unprecedented $3.7 million in 9 public safety and youth engagement initiatives to empower young people and build a safer future for Chattanooga.
Community Haven will receive $1 million to design an evidence-based violence interruption initiative in coordination with the City, which will reach the people who are at highest-risk of being involved in gun violence.
$900,000 will go toward small, community-rooted organizations for youth engagement initiatives in every city district, as directed by City Council.
Kingdom Partners will receive $500,000 to create a new multi-organization mentorship network with at least 30 local churches and other nonprofit organizations, with the goal of recruiting 300 new mentors across the city.
The Pursuit of Happiness, Y-CAP, and Reach One Teach One will receive $500,000, $300,000, and $75,000, respectively, to provide wraparound services for vulnerable youth and their families, including counseling, mentoring, internship, and skill-building opportunities.
Dynamo Studios and Kingship Chess Academy will receive $200,000 and $150,000, respectively, to help young people build skills in music production and chess while forming positive, pro-social relationships.
The Chattanooga School of Language will receive $45,000 to help local workers whose first language is not English develop language and cultural skills needed to advance their careers.
Improving Access to Mental Healthcare:
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing gaps in access to mental healthcare and accelerated mental health issues among adolescents, in particular. According to the CDC, almost half—44 percent—of high school students reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless in 2021. The City is investing $1.225 million into four initiatives that will help improve access to mental health services for some of Chattanooga’s most vulnerable communities.
LifeSpring Community Health will receive $600,000 to develop a new mental health program for the nearly 5,800 pediatric patients and families they serve, the vast majority of whom come from low-income homes with low-access to quality healthcare.
First Baptist Cares and the Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System will receive $250,000 and $175,000, respectively, to increase access points for mental health services, meeting people in crisis where they already are, including in churches, schools, and emergency rooms.
Richmont Graduate University will receive $200,000 to increase the availability of mental health services for communities in need by increasing and diversifying the city’s mental health workforce.
Strengthening our Early Learning System:
Decades of research show that the earliest part of a child’s life is the most critical to future development and success. To help create a path to universal learning for every child, the City is investing $3.6 million in 4 initiatives that will provide more than 210 new early learning seats for low-income families.
As part of the Westside Evolves project, the Chattanooga Housing Authority (CHA) will receive $3 million ($2 million from American Rescue Plan funds, $1 million from the City’s affordable housing fund) to renovate the historic James A. Henry school into a Westside neighborhood hub that will include 40 additional early learning seats for young children and jumpstart CHA’s transformative affordable housing initiative.
Chattanooga 2.0 will receive $500,000 to help improve recruitment and retention at existing early learning centers.
Investments Align with Equitable Recovery Commission Recommendations
Mayor Tim Kelly established the Equitable Recovery Commission to ensure Chattanooga’s ARPA fund allocation process was administered with integrity and accountability, through an equity lens. The commission developed a framework for the investment, which had a central theme of catalyzing the economic growth of the Black community. To help spur economic growth under this goal, the commission recommended a funding breakdown of projects that fell into four priority areas. The One Chattanooga Relief and Recovery Plan closely aligns with the commission’s recommendations for division of funding, with smart and catalytic opportunities in each priority area.