Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise
Earlier this year, Anna—several months pregnant with her second child—was grateful to have a steady job. She was counting on that income for her usual expenses, as well as for the new addition to her family. Unfortunately, she was laid off due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was too close to my due date to start another job,” Anna said. “My funds were running out and I fell behind on rent. Then I received the notice of eviction, which was so stressful.”
Anna had the baby, but was unable to get another job until her doctor gave her clearance to begin working again. Now with an infant and a young child, she was facing being forced out of their home. “With coronavirus, it’s hard to find anywhere to go,” Anna said. “If I got evicted I would probably have to stay in a motel, and that doesn’t seem safe in a pandemic with a newborn and another child.”
Unable to cover the rent due before her eviction case court date, Anna found her way to Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise (CNE), a non-profit organization that is committed to helping all of our neighbors secure safe, quality, affordable housing. As economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates an already pre-existing eviction crisis, homelessness prevention has become an important part of CNE’s work.
“I was able to stay in my home because y’all paid my rent,” Anna told her CNE advocate. “I’m back to work now and we’re all doing great. And the baby is perfect!”
CNE is an important organization on the front-lines of the work to support those most vulnerable to housing instability. Founded in 1986 with an original mission of ensuring decent and affordable housing for all, the organization has become an essential resource and leader in fostering economic mobility and creating diverse and sustainable neighborhoods.
“For long-term and sustainable solutions, we have to build a comprehensive policy framework that gets at root causes.”
With a comprehensive approach, CNE provides multiple layers of housing-related support to the community, including low-interest, accessible-term home purchase loans; homebuyer coaching; mortgage and foreclosure guidance, and affordable housing development with an approach that promotes strong and inclusive neighborhoods.
The team at CNE is also engaged in creating a policy platform for elected officials and candidates, advocating for a long-term vision for our community in collaboration with community voices from neighborhoods across the city.
“As we are working though responding to the eviction crisis, it is more apparent than ever that it is hard to solve individual crisis points without addressing the broader housing and neighborhood issues we face,” Alexa LeBouef, Policy Advocate at CNE, explained. “For long-term and sustainable solutions, we have to build a comprehensive policy framework that gets at root causes.”
While the CNE clients’ cases may be diverse in details, Emily O’Donnell, a private practice attorney, who has partnered with CNE to provide eviction protection advocacy, sees a common thread in all of them. “Every client story is compelling,” O’Donnell said. “Everyone deserves compassion.”
By helping our most vulnerable neighbors secure affordable housing and economic mobility, CNE continues to be an essential organization in the effort to realize a more just and prosperous Chattanooga.
To learn more about CNE and their services and financial assistance funds, including the Homelessness Prevention Fund, please visit cneinc.org or call (423)756-6201.