Eviction numbers in Chattanooga, TN

Many Hamilton County residents are losing housing due to the pandemic and unemployment. | Pexels

Situations have recently gotten worse for people struggling to pay rent and that means eviction for some area residents. 

On July 24, the federal moratorium protecting those living in properties with federally backed mortgages or government-assisted housing from eviction expired.

Last week, this article showed numbers looking pretty bleak. According to census Household Pulse data, 58% of renter households in Tennessee are unable to pay rent and at risk for eviction. This story documented an experience of a veteran living in Cleveland, TN, who was evicted from his home.

Percentage of renters facing eviction by state | Screenshot from CNBC

Trista here, and after seeing those numbers, I promptly tried to find information about local housing. I spoke with Joda Thongnopnua, the Director of Communications at the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, for some insight. The mission of the Community Foundation is to encourage giving and inspire action to improve lives in the Chattanooga area.

Before we get into the numbers, concrete city data doesn’t exist yet, so these are estimates based on Household Pulse data gathered by the US Census Bureau. The latest survey went out on July 29.

What the numbers say

  • An estimated 18,100 Hamilton County renters are at risk of eviction.
  • 52% of state renters are at risk of eviction. (This is a slight decrease from the CNBC report because it’s based on a later survey.)
  • Metro areas (Chattanooga) will be 2-3 percentage points higher than the state.

Bonus fact — According to the latest data gathered in 2018, a little over 12,000 renters (37%)  are paying more than 35% of their income on rent, and some are paying more than 50% of their income on rent.

What CFGC is doing to help

The eviction prevention initiative — CFCG raised $80,000 to fund a pilot program through Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise + Legal Aid. Attorneys have stepped up pro-bono to represent renters and are allotted a fund that allows them to negotiate + settle monetary disputes with property managers. It’s only a small pilot program and has helped a few hundred.

Individuals facing eviction are encouraged to call CNE(423) 756-6271 — to inquire about assistance and support on their case.

Three ways you can help

  1. Contribute to the Community Foundation, by check, with Eviction Prevention Fund in the memo line OR donate online and select Eviction Prevention Fund from the dropdown menu.

    Select “Eviction Prevention Fund” about halfway down the dropdown menu. | Screenshot
  2. If you’re an attorneyor know one interested — reach out to Emily O’Donnell ([email protected]) to sign up for training to take pro-bono eviction cases.
  3. Sign up for a court-watching shift through CALEB, where community volunteers attend and compile information on eviction hearings during the Hamilton County General Sessions Civil Court docket. This helps families in need get connected to our attorneys taking cases. Shifts are roughly one hour.