For the People with Love: Poverty-Free Chattanooga

Everyday, some 170,000 of us Chattanoogans go about our daily routine. Some to work, others to look for work. Some in offices, others on construction sites. We work and go home, or some of us do. Some of us go to shelter beds, far too many of us go to the streets.

The hum of that activity, the stress of our jobs, the beauty and love of our relationships and all the conflicts, self-interests and passions since the year 1839 have constituted the City of Chattanooga. We show no signs of letting up. Listen to our civic pride. We have the Gig (some of us), we are entrepreneurs and workers, we are Southside and Westside, and we fight to make our neighborhood the center of business, to save the homes, or even to save the doughnuts.

But let’s ask ourselves this: why have we organized ourselves into a city? What’s it all for? Why do we even have a city? There are those of us who may be wondering why, especially when that city isn’t working for them.

Consider the following facts:
To the marginalized who sit on the sidelines of the Chattanooga Renaissance, what is the City of Chattanooga to them, and more importantly, what could it be?

That’s why Chattanooga Organized for Action is launching Poverty-Free Chattanooga. Dedicated towards finding the best solutions to ending poverty in our city, Poverty-Free Chattanooga will be forming a Task Force aimed at researching the best public policies that cities, counties, service providers, and nonprofits can adopt towards reducing the poverty level in Chattanooga by 25% by 2019.

To succeed, we need help. That’s why we’re inviting the community to help us create a national model for mid-sized cities working to eradicate poverty in the 21st century. With dwindling help from the Federal government, we know that poverty’s answer can come from local government. Chattanooga can lead the way!

Maybe the highest purpose of cities has been right before us all along - to care for and love one another.

Ending poverty in Chattanooga isn’t about statistics or politics.
Its an act of love for the people, and one that is desperately needed.

 Perrin Lance is the Executive Director of Chattanooga Organized for Action. You can find out more Poverty-Free Chattanooga by visiting their website or emailing them at 

“Twenty-seven percent of the city’s residents live below the poverty line, nearly double the national average. ”