Mother of former Support Solutions Resident speaks out about the program

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn (WDEF) – More questions come after the death of a caretaker at a Hixson group home.

Shantez Ferguson is accused of hitting caretaker Kevin Garrett in the head with a brick, killing him.

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The home is run by Support Solutions and sits in a Hixson neighborhood.

“My son was there for less than six months, and he looked like he had come from a concentration camp,”says the mother.

A mom whos son is non-verbal and autistic use to be a resident at one of the support solutions group homes.

She claims her son has never been treated so badly.

According to the mother, He even sustained a serious injury while in their care and was hospitalized for 8 days.

The mom has since removed her son from the support solutions home, but she says that place will forever leave mark on her son.

“My son has eating disorders that he never had before and he has had a lot of trouble trying to gain his weight back,”says the mother.

Since Support Solutions moved their group home into this Hixson neighborhood in 2017, Chattanooga police have responded 43 times.

Neighbors want answers as to why this sort of group home can reside in an otherwise restricted residential subdivision.

City officials tell News 12, that the state allows these types of homes to live anywhere, but with some regulations.

“As long as those persons of disabilities are not more than eight people with disabilities and 3 caregivers , The state of Tennessee regulates that they can go into any residential zone,”says Chattanooga City Attorney, Phil Noblett.

Noblett says only on special circumstances can the city get involved.

“Cities do get involved if there are more than eight people who are residents in there then they can do go into a R-1 or single family residential zone,”says Noblett.

The group home most also be a non -profit state funded program.

“If there are situations that the businesses are operated for a profit then they also have to have a license and they have to get a special exceptions permit from the board of zoning appeals before they can operate,”says Noblett.

 

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Joeli Poole joined the WDEF News 12 Team in April 2019 as a Reporter and Producer. You can find her reporting during the week and when not on camera; she's producing the 6 and 11 shows. Joeli grew up with a love for reporting, starting in middle school. She has been the anchor for her middle and high school TV stations, along with the Sports Anchor for her College TV Station. Joeli grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and moved to Tennessee when she 10 years old. She went to Cleveland Middle school and Walker Valley High School. She graduated in May of 2019 from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor's degree in Communications. Being from the area, Joeli loves being able to help tell the stories of her community. In her spare time, Joeli enjoys watching her LSU Tigers, hiking, and playing with her dog. Feel free to email any story ideas at jpoole@wdef.com.