Neediest Cases helps low-income workers in Chattanooga area remain housed when faced with the unexpected

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Angie Drake, solutions coordinator for United Way of Rhea County, works at her office on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.

As housing costs in the Chattanooga area continue to outpace wage growth, local agencies are receiving more requests for assistance from people who never needed help before. For the many Chattanooga-area residents who live paycheck to paycheck, an unexpected illness, car repair or job loss could leave them homeless if they didn't get one-time help from the Neediest Cases Fund.

"Rent is a big thing here, or lack of a place to rent," said Angie Drake, a case manager for United Way of Rhea County.

Recently Drake has seen several clients whose landlords decided to remodel their apartments and then raised their rents to amounts they were unable to afford. Other clients received government-issued housing vouchers they were unable to use because landlords often don't want to deal with the hassle, she said.