City of Chattanooga: Bridging the Gap between Affordable Housing and Workforce Development

Report National Resource Network Chattanooga, Tennessee November 3, 2016 Equity

In April 2015, the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee, applied to the National Resource Network for assistance understanding the connections between housing and workforce development in their community.

The Kirwan Institute defines opportunity as “a situation or condition that places individuals in a position to be more likely to succeed or excel.” The Network team used Enterprise’s Communities of Opportunity Index as a framework to link strategies that target the city’s hard-to-house and hard-to-employ population. The Index analyzes a wide range of data indicators across five core dimensions of opportunity, focused on long-term economic mobility and well-being:

  • Housing security;
  • Housing market conditions;
  • Healthcare;
  • Transit and infrastructure; and
  • Economic mobility and inclusion.

Drawing on this analysis, this report proposes an opportunity-based typology and roadmap to align appropriate affordable housing and workforce development strategies with specific local conditions, funding resources, and partners at the Census Tract level. In other words, it identifies where opportunity already exists—evidenced by more positive conditions—and identifies targeted strategies to secure affordable housing investments in opportunity-rich communities. Similarly, it shows areas of higher need and helps focus efforts on promoting both equitable affordable housing and workforce development programs to support economic mobility and resident connections in these areas.

During the “Bridging the Gap” workshop in October 2016, affordable housing and workforce development stakeholders affirmed the need for a more coordinated effort between their respective sectors, noting that piloting a comprehensive approach to both housing and workforce development needs in a specific geographic location could initiate this effort.

In partnership with local affordable housing organizations, real-estate developers, workforce development stakeholders, and residents, the Network recommends that the city should focus its efforts on increasing access to opportunity for residents through its affordable housing and workforce development strategies, using this roadmap as a means to better align their existing and future work. Through cross-sector collaboration, the city and its partners can build communities of opportunity and ensure all Chattanoogans benefit from the city’s growing prosperity.

The Network’s engagement team in Chattanooga was led by consortium members Enterprise Community Partners and Jobs for the Future.

City of Chattanooga: Bridging the Gap between Affordable Housing and Workforce Development