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City of Chattanooga Roll Out 3D-Printed Shelter Units to Help the Unhoused


The city of Chattanooga, TN, recently announced the first two new residents of their 3D-printed shelters. 

Created in partnership with Branch Technology and in association with the Olivet Baptist Church led by Bishop Kevin L. Adams, Sr., the shelters for the unhoused are located on a vacant piece of land owned by the church. 

The two residents living in the temporary homes lived in the homes for approximately one month before moving to a permanent home found for them by the Office of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. As part of the city’s 12-month pilot program, the shelters were made using a 3D printer to create what is known as Branch Technology’s CompositeCore panels as the four walls of the units. 

After designing the shelter units using 3D geometry, the tech company used 6-axis robotic 3D printers to create a “structural lattice” by using a UV-laser beam to harden the resin. According to the official release, the temporary homes are also armed with robotically cut fire-rated insulating foam and a cement-based waterproof finish. The shelter units have been equipped with air conditioning, a bed, a microwave, a fridge and a compartment for storage. 

While the program is still in its early stages, the city hopes to expand the pilot to create and offer the unhoused with more temporary 3D-printed homes. 

“The overall process has been seamless. Our team made contact with our residents every day to make sure everything was working smoothly and that our residents had what they needed,” said the Director of Homeless Initiatives for the Office of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, Casey Tinker, per an official release. “The quick success with the first two clients in this pilot allows us to move two new participants into the units this week and start the process all over again.”

The launch of the pilot comes amidst an exponential increase in those who were unhoused and living in the city of Chattanooga last year. According to the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition’s Point In Time 2022 submission to the Department of Housing & Urban Development, there was a 153% increase in the number of people who were unhoused in the city. While a variety of demographics were affected, such as women and young adults, Black Americans living in Chattanooga were found to be disproportionately affected. According to the report, there was a 386% increase in the number of Black Americans without a home living in the city. 

Overall, in the country, Black Americans are disproportionately unhoused. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Black Americans are amongst those who are most affected, coming in second only to Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders. 

Per the latest data, 48 Black Americans out of every 10,000 U.S. citizens are unhoused- the rate is four times more than that of white Americans and ten times that of Asian Americans. 

Although in Chattanooga, the rate of those living in the city that are unhoused has improved this year, the officials announced a new $100 million affordable housing initiative in March, vowing to create more than 600 units. 

 “We stand the very real risk of becoming a city where lifelong Chattanoogans cannot afford to live, and that is flatly unacceptable,” Mayor Tim Kelly said per an official release. “That’s why over the next five years, my administration will mobilize the resources necessary to build thousands of affordable homes.”

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