Investing in under-served communities, youth engagement and public safety among the biggest winners in city’s plan; City Council to discuss on Tuesday
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – The city of Chattanooga is getting more money, and it’s a sizable amount from the federal government.
It’s all part of the American Rescue Plan.
The average American may not understand what the American Rescue Plan is.
For many of you, you remember the stimulus checks sent out while we’ve been under the COVID pandemic.
That’s part of it.
Cities like Chattanooga also get money to help invest in the communities hit hardest by the pandemic.
Much of the $30 million goes toward helping under-served communities.
A couple examples: a low barrier homeless shelter and money to revitalize the Alton Park neighborhood.
The city says these were conscious decisions.
Joda Thongnapnua, the city’s Chief of Staff, says, “We were going to change the way we do business. And, I think the American Rescue Plan that we’ve presented for these dollars demonstrates that we are going to prioritize organizations that are close to their communities. They are proximate to the problem.”
One such problem the city acknowledges is public safety. The incident the city points to as an issue is the shooting along Walnut Street on May 29th. Several teenagers shot at each other downtown, and one victim awaits more brain surgeries.
Thongnapnua says the answer isn’t just putting more officers on the streets. It’s engaging our youth early.
“If we tried to make the entire responsibility of solving gun violence the responsibility of our law enforcement officers, we are going to get the exact same results we’ve gotten for years, which is why we have made this decision to invest in these community mentorship organizations.”
Getting to the youth early can help toward creating a better workforce in Chattanooga. With companies like Ifixit coming, and Qcells down in Dalton expanding, having local people ready for high tech jobs that are coming is a smart economic decision.
Thongnapnua: “More families that have historically grew up here, that have planted roots here, that have gone to school here for generations, that they were also going to access the prosperity that came with increased investment in our communities.”
City Council will go through the funding plan line-by-line Tuesday morning.
The Mayor’s office believes this is the best path forward to help certain communities now, and invest in the growth of others.
Whether it passes Tuesday is anyone’s guess.