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Organization offering free legal help for low-income people facing eviction

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – For more than 50 years, Legal Aid of East Tennessee provided free legal help to low-income people in the Knoxville, Chattanooga and Tri-Cities areas; across 26 counties.

Emily Cala, a staff attorney at Legal Aid of East Tennessee explained what motivates her to help those in need.

“If I help make a difference in one person’s life then that’s enough and it’s worth the work,” Cala said.

The staff attorneys help prevent evictions and do other things related to tenant’s rights, like when a tenant has their heat or utilities turned off.

Legal Aid only handles civil cases like evictions and domestic abuse cases, according to attorney Michael Davis.

It gets its funding from federal grants and 40 other key funding sources. To qualify for Legal Aid assistance, a person with no one else living in their household, would have to make less than $18,000 per year, but you should still contact the office to see if other resources are available.

“We’ve seen cases where people’s rent has doubled in less than six months or a year. No one expects that either and a lot of times people can wind up in an eviction issue for non-payment and that’s where we’re doing a lot of our work right now,” Davis said.