Fair Housing Rents (issued by HUD) for 2005 in Whitfield County are $475, $525, $703, and $724 for a one-, two-, three-, or four-bedroom housing unit, respectively). This compares with the metro Chattanooga area of $482, $569, $701 and $820 – ironic that three-bedroom rent is higher in Whitfield than in Chattanooga!
Of course in the metro Atlanta area these Fair Housing Rents are significantly higher at $750, $824, $1024, $1164.
The relevancy of these rent levels is to compare them with the private market in Whitfield County to see if landlords are exceeding the amount that the federal government deems as “fair.” Is it possible, for instance, that the Dalton 3-bedroom rate is higher than many other places in the State because landlords are able to collect rent from several tenants living in crowded conditions?
Employment and Unemployment Rates in the City and County
The top ten employers in the County (both public and private) employ 25,836 workers, overwhelmed by Shaw Industries and Mohawk Industries that employ nearly 17,000 between them. The economy has been steadily improving after the events of 9/11and work seems plentiful in the Dalton area.
The City of Dalton unemployment rate (January 2005) was 4.7%, slightly lower than the State of Georgia’s rate of 4.8% and lower than the national average of 5.4%.
However, the civilian unemployment rate in the 2000 census for two neighborhoods targeted for Urban Redevelopment was 7.85% (Crown Mill neighborhood) and 7.77% (East Dalton neighborhood). Many of the City’s housing problems are located in these communities.
Although the current non-farm unemployment rate in the country is 5.4% (February 2005: US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics), it is 6.4% for Hispanic/ Latinos ages 20 and over; 10.9% for Blacks; 4.5% for Asians and; 17.5% for teenagers in all categories.
The current population segments of Whitfield county are 55% white, 35% Latino, 7% African-American and 3% other.
The Latino population for the 1990-2000 decade increased from 1,422 persons in the City of Dalton to 11,219 (789% growth), and from 2,321 in the County to 18,419 (793% growth). Both of these figures are nearly twice the growth rate of Latinos in the State of Georgia during the same time period (400%). The growth rate since 2000 is likely to have increased.
During the same period, the city lost about 22% of its white population and the county white population decreased about 10%, African-American population in the City dropped by about 10% and increased in the county by about 7%.
Although the Asian population is a small percentage of the total, the numbers doubled in both jurisdictions, adding to the cultural diversity along with small numbers of American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and other ethnic categories.
Dalton-Whitfield Housing Conditions
The Whitfield County Housing Condition Study, May 2007, was conducted to evaluate the condition of housing units that may be in a state of physical deterioration as indicated by appraisals conducted by the County Tax Appraisers Office. A more detailed inventory and assessment of these units will provide community planners valuable data to determine potential projects for seeking grant funds to improved housing conditions in the community.
The study area was prepared for Whitfield County, including the incorporated areas of Dalton, Tunnel Hill, Varnell and Cohutta.
This project was identified as an objective in the City/County Joint Comprehensive Plan update of 2002. The Plan indicates that "although specific data is not available except for age and lack of kitchens or complete bath facilities, visual observations indicate that there is a substantial amount of deteriorating housing throughout the county and cities." A policy was adopted to "Support the development and redevelopment of housing to assure quality housing opportunities for the area's workforce." The Plan's specific objectives are to "Remove and/or rehabilitate a reasonable portion of dilapidated or deteriorated housing over the next 10 years through a combination of public and private sector resources."
A versatile database has been tabulated and incorporated with GIS, which can be utilized to locate housing units and visually show housing conditions throughout the county. Scores assigned to components such as roofs, foundations, siding, doors, and windows were added together to award a house a final score. This final score can help determine which houses may be in need of assistance. Whitfield County and the City of Dalton will be able to use the results from this assessment for upcoming projects to improve housing conditions in the county and the city.
The study further contains the following information: