CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – The economic and public health crises caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic has left thousands of Tennesseans struggling to pay rent.
Now, an eviction moratorium that protected renters will be coming to an end
In response to the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a national emergency order on September 4th of this year that resulted in an eviction moratorium.
The moratorium paused evictions for nonpayment of rent for individuals who met certain criteria.
Many fear that with no clear end in sight for the Coronavirus pandemic, the moratorium, which is set to expire on Dec. 31, could cause a record number of home and apartment evictions.
“Many of the folks who had their income impacted back in march or at some point along the way, they still do not have their full income restored. Thus many of them are still not able to pay their rent and their utilities,” says Donna Williams, City Administrator of Economic & Community Development.
Chattanooga Homeless Coalition says they are already experiencing a high number of calls on their helpline and say that they are very concerned about the possible fallout of the moratorium coming to an end.
“We really feel like we don’t know the full impact on the homeless population yet and the eviction moratorium is definitely something that is going to impact that. We have seen a 150% increase in calls to our helpline so we know that people are struggling out there,” says Wendy Winters, Executive Director of the Chattanooga Homeless Coalition.
The city of Chattanooga says one of the main issues facing our city is the lack of affordable housing available in the area.
There is short-term help, however, for renters living inside the city limits.
“It’s our emergency Covid rent and utility program. We have been able to serve hundreds of households who are eligible for the assistance. That money doesn’t have to be paid back. If you are eligible, you receive it and your landlord will sign the form. Then, we are able to pay several months of that rent,” says Williams.