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Why a Boom in Apartment Building May Not Help with the Rising Cost of Housing in Chattanooga

Apartment construction site chaos.

Why a Boom in Apartment Building May Not Help with the Rising Cost of Housing in Chattanooga

CHATTANOOGA — In the past few years, the Chattanooga area has seen a surge in apartment construction. With development signs dotting the cityscape and cranes rising over former vacant lots, there is a visible push to meet the rising demand for housing. However, this construction boom might not be the solution to the escalating housing costs in Chattanooga.

A Growing Demand For Affordable Housing

Back in 2019, Chattanooga resident Caleb McCool was renting a one-bedroom apartment in Red Bank for $650 a month — a cost he found manageable with his income. Fast forward to 2024, and the rental rates in the region have shot up dramatically. McCool’s rental cost is no longer the norm, with prices often exceeding $1,000 for similar accommodations.

Caleb’s story is not unique.

Many Chattanooga locals have been moved out of their neighborhoods due to this skyrocketing cost of living. This has caused a surge in the demand for affordable housing, prompting the construction boom.

Rapid Apartment Construction: A Solution Or A Facade?

While developers are quick to erect new apartment buildings to meet the demand, these new offerings may not be as helpful as they seem. This is because the new apartments often cater to a higher-income market, leaving the ones who need affordable housing the most — struggling families, seniors, and lower-income workers — in the dust.

Such a situation reinforces a cycle where the wealthy can afford the cost of new apartments, and those at the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder are pushed further out.

The Local Government’s Role

The local government recognizes the imbalance within the housing market and is keen on intervening. The local authorities have proposed various measures such as the establishment of a housing trust fund, regulation of short-term rentals, and changes to zoning laws to incentivize affordable housing construction and preservation.

However, these efforts are met with challenges. Significant changes need political will and broad public support to become a reality. Some locals believe that the local government should not interfere in the housing market, while others are staunch advocates for more affordable housing.

The Future of Housing in Chattanooga

Chattanooga’s housing future is fraught with challenges. Addressing the imbalance in the housing market requires a thought-out strategy that brings together local government, private sector, and the community. While the apartment construction boom presents a hope for more housing, it may not necessarily ensure affordability, particularly for the city residents most in need.

Let us hope that the diverse voices advocating for affordable housing can spur change that benefits all members of the Chattanooga community and makes the city a home for all — regardless of income level.

Article authored by HERE News Network.

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