Chattanooga’s recent spike in houselessness brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is now on a steady decline. According to data from a January poll, the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in Hamilton County decreased from 1,144 in 2022 to 785 in 2023. And recent counts indicate the rate of homelessness inside the county dropped to 600 people this month.
While this issue is not unique to Chattanooga, locally created technologies may soon alleviate many of the issues brought on by houselessness in Hamilton County and beyond.
City of Chattanooga has partnered with Branch Technology to establish two 3D-printed shelters on property owned by Olivet Baptist Church in East 10th Street.
“We offer built world-related solutions that are affordable,” Dan Wykoff, chief financial and operating officer, of Branch Technology says.
“The heart of Branch Technology is leveraging premium and nonpremium products at a much lower cost to benefit the community as a whole.”
Following its mission of creating a more “beautiful built world,” Branch deploys the same freeform technology developed for NASA to solve complex community problems here at home.
“We want human beings to flourish. Whether that means building affordable temporary shelters for municipalities to serve populations experiencing homelessness, or whether it’s astronauts spending extended time on the Moon or Mars in the next 10 to 50 years – we want to be part of it and everything in between.”
Known for their incredible facades inspired by the natural world, Branch designed these shelters as simple yet elegant spaces for those transitioning into permanent housing. Ideally, residents will stay for approximately 90 days before moving to more stable housing, allowing new tenants to rotate into the temporary shelters.
In addition to providing shelter for unhoused people, these units also have applications in disaster relief and refugee crises. Whatever the case may be, Wykoff hopes these shelters serve as a catalyst for empowerment and higher quality of life.
“We’d love to see some of the people experiencing homelessness work through the system and end up working for Branch. To see someone who came out of these shelters recreate these environments for others would be awesome.”
Wykoff encourages local businesses, nonprofits, and other municipalities to follow City of Chattanooga’s footsteps in leveraging Branch Technology to mitigate houselessness in our communities.
Branch is creating pathways where corporations, nonprofits and faith-based organizations can sponsor and build these affordable shelters as part of their social responsibility efforts.
As more local companies deploy these next-gen technologies to solve real-world issues, Chattanooga will continue to serve as an example for other nearby metros to follow.
“We want to deploy third parties to fund [these projects] and be a part of the solution. Chattanooga is a relatively small but growing city with a benevolent mindset that can be put to work. That way, it’s not just Branch and the City coming together to solve these problems, it’s other entities coming together to leverage this technology. I hope cities like Nashville, Knoxville, and Memphis – and everywhere else – can see that this is a great model. We look forward to Branch shelters being deployed anywhere there’s a need for them.”
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