Chattanooga to reopen COVID-19 rent, utility payment program

Greg Moore, center, carries a sign as he and other protesters stage a demonstration for protection from eviction due to COVID-19 outside the Governor's mansion in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Friday, May 1, 2020. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Stephen Swofford)

The city of Chattanooga will reopen its COVID-19 rental and utility assistance fund in June to help residents struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic after a slow rollout of the program last month.

When the city first launched this program in April, officials received about 1,000 inquiries from people struggling to pay either rent or utility bills in the midst of record unemployment rates, reduced hours and furloughs caused by business closures related to virus.

Just over a dozen residents actually completed their applications, according to Director of Economic and Community Development Donna Williams.

"A thousand folks went on to the city's website to fill out a submission form, indicating their interest and their need for rent and utility assistance. Filling that form out probably takes 45 seconds, so let's let's call it a minute," Williams explained on a call with reporters Thursday morning.