Mary Ellen Galloway of Family Promise of Greater Chattanooga, talks about homelessness and options for their benefit. (Courtesy Noogaradio)
Mary Ellen Galloway, executive director of Family Promise of Greater Chattanooga, talks about homeless families aided by her organization — more than 650 families and 1,200 children transitioning to self-sufficiency since the group’s founding in 1998 as the Interfaith Homeless Network.
By the work of paid and volunteer staff, eight of 10 families have “transitioned to stability and housing,” Family Promise says.
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM 101.1 FM
Of particular interest in an interview, she also considers the risks and benefits of the “Your shantytown is my housing free trade zone“ concept that is edging its way into the mayoral campaign that is willing to overlook the city’s homeless problem either by benign neglect or continuing bold — and debilitating — government intervention.
Free trade zone outcomes?
“It certainly is an idea,” she says. “What kind of outcomes could we expect of children’s educations living in that kind of unstable environment? What I read was — perhaps somebody would install toilets, might install showers for people — it could [be the work of churches and nonprofits] — and here’s the thing.
“Habitat for Humanity uses churches, the churches help build structures, and we’ve had several families actually move from Family Promise and end up in some of these Habitat homes. That’s the kinds of housing that will produce better outcomes in terms of stability, good health, and safety, and successful outcomes for children in school. Maybe in missing something here. It’s seems very much like what we already have. We have lean-to’s all over Chattanooga.”
Mrs. Galloway puts little stock in the benefit a fixed address that would occur in a housing free trade zone requiring occupancy of land for 2 1/2 years. People can get mail at the community kitchen on East 11th Street, she says. “Homeless people for years have used that address. They go there and pick up their mail just like you and I go down to our mailboxes.”
Many people have mental health conditions or be addicts, and they might not do well in a free trade zone for housing where they settle on a small block of land and build what they will.
Mrs. Galloway says she would like to ask homeless people what they would say about shifting for themselves with their own dwellings recycled from construction site waste piles. “A dumpster is not Home Depot. It’s where people throw things. It’s not like the plumbing department at the Home Depot is down to the right. It’s a dumpster.”
Mrs. Galloway indicates she is willing to think further in the direction of the proposal, though it strikes her as a novelty.