What is happening in Chattanooga?
In March, both Tennessee and Georgia dropped to their lowest unemployment rates in history. Employers are scrambling to fill more than 4 times as many job openings as there are workers. The TN Department of Labor and Workforce Development said employers across the state added 124,800 jobs in the past year to cut the jobless rate down to 3.2% from the previous month. This beat the all-time low for unemployment. In Georgia, the jobless rate fell down to 3.1%, even slightly lower than Tennessee, after the addition of 234,400 jobs in the past year.
Governor Bill Lee proposed, and passed, a 30-day suspension of state and local grocery sales taxes to provide direct financial relief to Tennesseans. He said, “As Americans see their cost-of-living skyrocketing amid historic inflation, suspending the grocery tax is the most effective way to provide direct relief to every Tennessean. Our state has the ability to put dollars back in the pockets of hardworking Tennesseans…” This was approved on March 29th.
Mayor Tim Kelly has announced a $100 million dollar affordable housing initiative for the city of Chattanooga. This program is designed to last 5 years. Kelly says, “Chattanooga faces a cross roads for affordable housing,” and adds that “the city is at risk of becoming a city where rent is unaffordable.” This investment is meant to help fill an estimated housing gap of more than 5,000 homes across Chattanooga. The city of Chattanooga considers affordable housing to be “30% or less of a person’s income.” Mayor Kelly has committed to $33 million in in the fiscal year of 2023, with the remaining budget to come from nonprofit, philanthropic, and private sector partners. The goal of this project is not only to increase affordable housing within the city, but also make the initiative a low risk investment for partners.
Around 95 new “starter homes” are in the works in Chattanooga, near the Chickamauga Creek area. This is aimed at helping first time home buyers get into a residence. The site for this project is a 28.5 acre plot right off Faith Road, and is central to all the things the city of Chattanooga has to offer. The homes will range from 1,350 to 2,000 square feet. The price point has yet to be determined due to the rising cost of construction materials. Ben Phillips- one of the main leaders in this initiative said, “We know there’s strong demand for the housing we’re going to put there. We wanted to go after what Chattanooga needed.”
A Chattanooga developer plans to build several hundred homes on a 321 acre lot near Apison. This will be one of the biggest residential subdivisions developed in the area in years. The current plan is to build detached single-family homes, though they have not announced the amount of homes to be built. Plans for utilities are still to be finalized, since the area is wooded and contains bodies of water. However, they did announce that there is a plan for at least 10 acres to be used as a community park area.