Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) – The Forgotten Child Fund is not allowed to renew their lease by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. Mayor Berke and his administration are giving the organization until February 28th to find a new place.
Below is a statement from Donna Williams the Administrator for the Department of Economic and Community Development.
“The Forgotten Child Fund and the Chattanooga Furniture Bank have done incredible work to help our residents each year and we are grateful for their years of service to Chattanoogans. The Mayor’s Office and the Department of Economic and Community Development have been working with them to find a solution and ways they could receive City funding. We are equally excited to continue moving forward with a plan for this site that will provide stable, safe, long-term housing for people in our city who need it the most, and we are grateful to the Forgotten Child Fund for their understanding and cooperation in this critical project.
The Mayor’s office has provided their version of a timeline of the most recent conversations with the Forgotten Child Fund below.
- For several years, the City of Chattanooga has had a contract with the Forgotten Child Fund, the Chattanooga Furniture Bank, and others to lease warehouse space on East Main Street for $1 per year. This is not a unique arrangement as this is something we are proud to provide to numerous non-profits across the community.
- However, the City surplussed the site at 1815 East Main Street for sale or land donation in 2016 and have been in conversation with the Forgotten Child Fund to keep them in the loop dating back to 2013, per our records.
- Last December, the City was made aware of a proposed project by the AIM Center and the Vecino Group to create much needed affordable housing for individuals experiencing homelessness and those living with mental illness. We felt the property on East Main was the best location for this project and have begun the land donation process. This project was presented to the surrounding neighborhood associations and supported by the City Council .
- Since then, the City has worked with the Forgotten Child Fund to help them find space that would accommodate their needs. Unfortunately, the City does not have any additional warehouse space available to lease to them or the Furniture Bank.
- In February 2020, the City provided the Forgotten Child Fund with a list of privately-owned available warehouse spaces within the City and walked them through the Budgeting for Outcomes (BFO) process so they could submit a BFO offer to get some funding to help cover some of the costs.
- In June 2020, the Mayor’s Office reached out to the Forgotten Child Fund about the idea of extending their lease, which was set to expire on September 1, so the organization could continue operations through the holiday season. The City moved forward with a lease extension, which was given final approval by the City Council in July and their new lease is set to expire on February 28, 2021.
- This plan was reiterated to the Forgotten Child Fund Board in September, to which the City received no response or questions.