Using COVID-19 relief funds, Chattanooga helps expand eviction prevention program

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The passage of the city of Chattanooga's budget Tuesday evening is helping scale up a program to prevent evictions in the community and provide legal aid to residents.

The city allocated $500,000 from federal funds from the American Rescue Plan to expand the eviction prevention initiative that launched earlier this year as a pilot program.

Through grants from the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, area residents facing eviction can be paired with an attorney from Legal Aid of East Tennessee who can help prevent the eviction or negotiate terms if residents must leave their homes.

The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have put many residents on the brink of losing their homes, said Joda Thongnopnua, chief policy officer.

Unlike landlords, many of those facing eviction do not have legal representation when they appear before a judge.