Chattanooga community leaders brace for wave of evictions to hit already strained housing market

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Tyler Yount, director of special projects for Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, speaks to the editors of the Times Free Press on December 4, 2018.

Chattanooga's nonprofit and government leaders are preparing to cushion the blow of an onslaught of eviction cases that have been accumulating throughout the pandemic.

On Thursday, local courts heard the first 53 eviction cases in several months, a precursor for the wave of cases attorney Emily O'Donnell expects to see as protections for those facing eviction during the pandemic run out.

"We already know that the 53 on the docket today was like a practice, it's going to get much, much worse," O'Donnell said during a news conference after court on Thursday. "I overheard a judge say that he thought that, when we really go back big time, he anticipates some late nights to hear all the cases. So we know that this is going to increase, and we don't know what the cost will be."

O'Donnell,