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Report shows 'significant jump' in homeless population in Chattanooga, southeast Tennessee

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(Image: WTVC)
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The number of people without a permanent address in Chattanooga and across southeast Tennessee went up significantly, according to a report by the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition (CRHC) released on Friday.

The CRHC conducts an annual "point-in-time" (PIT) count of people who are unsheltered and homeless. It submits its findings to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Scroll down to see the specific homeless count for each Tennessee county in the NewsChannel 9 viewing area.


The CRHC says its numbers represent a 153% increase compared to 2021.

There was a 387% increase in women, a 207% increase in young adults (aged 18-24) and a 386% in Black people.

The report also says chronic homelessness, meaning a person is without a permanent address for at least a year, went up 118% in the same time period.

The average time a person spends without a home is 557 days, according to the CRHC report. That's a 98% increase compared to last year.

Digging deeper into the numbers:

  • Hamilton County saw a 177% increase in homelessness.
  • Bradley County saw a 108% increase in homelessness. Some good news, though: Bradley County saw a 71% reduction in chronic homelessness.
CRHC Executive Director Wendy Winters, said “Though increased numbers again this year illustrates just how devastating the affordable housing crisis is in our region, the special allocation of funds the homeless system of care received to aid our COVID response kept the numbers from being even worse. In 2021, there were 1,274 positive housing placements and 638 households enrolled in prevention programs.”

The region was also awarded $2.3 million from HUD to prevent and end youth homelessness. The Coordinated Community Plan will guide a local competition this spring to allocate those dollars to service providers in Southeast TN’s homeless response.

Homeless communities in Tennessee have made recent headlines.

Earlier this week, TDOT crews removed a homeless encampment on 11th Street in Chattanooga, after city officials say it was a safety hazard for pedestrians who had to walk in the road to avoid the camp.

On Tuesday, Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill that would make it illegal for a homeless person to camp on public property. That bill is now on Tennessee Governor Bill Lee's desk.

Last month, Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly announced an affordable housing initiative that is designed to get people into a home they can afford.

Here's a look at what this year's PIT count revealed for the number of homeless people in each Tennessee county in our viewing area:

  • Hamilton County : 1008
  • McMinn County: 282
  • Marion County: 268
  • Polk County: 266
  • Bradley County: 250
  • Rhea County: 214
  • Meigs County: 211
  • Bledsoe County: 200
  • Sequatchie County: 172
  • Grundy County: 41

This comes to a total of 2,912 people in the Tennessee portion of the NewsChannel 9 viewing area who don't have a permanent address.


The CRHC's release says anyone who wants to get involved is "encouraged to speak with local elected officials to stress the importance of making the development of affordable housing a priority for our region.

Winters says, “The solution is housing. It isn’t measures like the bill that has just been sent to Governor Lee (SB1610/HB978) that would criminalize homelessness.”

The release also says Chattanooga also does not have a year round, low barrier, emergency shelter. The release says that means "our unhoused neighbors do not have a lot of options for where they lay their head at night."

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Visit the CRHC's website to learn more.

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