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HOPE for the Inner City - Mercy Ministries programs in Chattanooga.

Anyone seeking assistance from HOPE for the Inner City will need to go through the case management process, which is the basic component of accessing help. Based on the results of this, and if the family has the ability to gain self-sufficiency, then they may be provided short term support such as free food or money for rent or energy bills. The aid is part of a service known as Mercy Ministries. A number of other resources will also be arranged for some clients.

One of the core components case management is employment counseling. Trained specialists from the agency support individuals of all backgrounds. There are sessions for seniors who are seeking employment, the un-employed, or those looking to re-enter the Hamilton County workforce. During workshops counselors assist individuals some or all of the following.

At first, there will be an assessment of job history undertaking. Then the client and specialist will identify work goals. There will then be referrals to help the individuals access the training they need. If needed, classes such as GED test preparation assistance are arranged.

Basic needs are addressed as well by HOPE for the Inner City - Mercy Ministries for those seeking employment. There may be gas vouchers or bus passes to a job interview. A computer lab in the Chattanooga office is available for free usage. There will be Internet access, use of a phone, fax, printer, resume software and photocopier.

Tenants that are behind on their rent can apply for financial aid from an Emergency Solutions Grant. This is a one time per year program. It is available as art of an annual grant process from the county and non-profits such as the United Way.

Funds from ESG are used for homelessness prevention. The assistance is for households who would otherwise become homeless, so there may be money for paying back rent or even utility bills. Another use of the money is to offer financial assistance to rapidly rehouse persons who are homeless, so this may be funds for security deposits. Depending on resources available at HOPE for the Inner City - Mercy Ministries, some people may be given a no interest loan as a form of financial support.





Additional housing support, in this case a subsidy, is arranged by Tenant Based Rental Assistance. This program provides either security or utility deposit assistance for eligible households. So this will help rehouse clients.

The utility deposit assistance from TBRA may be provided by HOPE for the Inner City only in conjunction with someone moving into a new home. The program is offered to low income and fixed income families. The guidelines are the applicant must be recently evicted and tenants need to have a source of income to be able to pay rent and utilities on their own after moving into the residence. There are also income guidelines in place.

The Food Pantry that is part of the Mercy Ministries service will depend on people or businesses who regularly donate fresh produce or canned goods. Individuals visiting the pantry are able to use a self-choice center. So this is set up like any other grocery store and allows people to shop there, but the items are free.

Each individuals using the client choice pantry will select just the items they prefer with quantities based on family size and available stock. In some instances, HOPE for the Inner City Case Managers provide one or more vouchers for additional support. The vouchers can then be redeemed at local food pantries in Hamilton County.

While the availability will change based on season and donation levels, the pantry may have canned vegetables, fruits and meat items, Breads, Helper-type mixes, Seasonal fresh produce, Dried beans, Toiletries & hygiene items, baby formula and more. There may also be free holiday meals in Hamilton County Tennessee.

Additional energy bill assistance is from LIHEAP. This is a federally funded program to help eligible low-income households, in particular the disabled and seniors, meet their home heating needs. This utility program is divided into two components, and they include Subsidy and Crisis.

  • LIHEAP Crisis serves low income clients in Chattanooga who will be without heat or any type of power within four days. So there may be grants issued to keep their power or to reconnect it.
  • Subsidy will also help with utility bills. This provides a one-time payment for heating costs.




The workforce investment act (WIA) ties into case management that is referenced above. This is a basic service that is required for the person to gain stability. Participating in this HOPE for the Inner City service indicates that a client is interacting with and receiving the assistance and guidance on their employment needs.

WIA is used as a basic component to overcoming challenges. It will involve things such as Career Exploration, Client-centered Workshops, Assisted Job Development and Placement and financial literacy. There will be advice on reducing debts and rebuild credit, among other steps.

The main center, or ministry, is based at 1800 Roanoke Ave in Chattanooga Tennessee. The main phone number is 423-698-3178.


By Jon McNamara

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