Recently, Cuyahoga County committed one million dollars of federal funding to support legal assistance for tenants who lost income due to COVID-19. The County is granting this money to The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, the only civil legal service provider in Northeast Ohio. In 2020, Legal Aid prevented eviction in 91% of cases handled throughout Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties.
“In many cases, having a lawyer helps to negotiate a settlement with the landlord that protects housing stability. Housing stability, in turn, helps family, school and work stability,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.
This new funding for Legal Aid’s services comes at a crucial time. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) federal eviction moratorium, which was imposed in September of 2020 and extended, is set to expire at the end of June 2021. While some local areas may choose to create a local moratorium, Legal Aid expects to see a rise in people seeking help with housing problems.
Legal Aid is collaborating with United Way to expand this eviction work, and we have extensive experience and great success in creating housing stability. For instance, Vicky (name changed to protect client privacy), a single mother of three school-aged children, was laid off when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. She applied for unemployment, but the $275 per week was not enough to cover food, basic supplies, and rent. Vicky used her stimulus check to cover rent for April and May, then applied for and received two months of rental assistance from a local nonprofit. She next applied for subsidized rent through a second agency but was denied because her previous employer refused to provide verifying documentation. When Vicky missed her September rent payment, her landlord filed for eviction.
At her eviction hearing, Vicky learned she qualified for Legal Aid’s help. The magistrate postponed Vicky’s hearing so she had time to consult with an attorney.
Vicky’s Legal Aid attorney helped her secure more short-term rent assistance for September and October, and also contacted the agency that had denied her assistance. After the attorney clarified Vicky’s situation, the agency approved Vicky for subsidized rent through 2021 and up to 9 months of continued assistance. Vicky’s Legal Aid attorney represented her in the eviction, and as the 2020 holidays approached, Vicky’s home was saved. Vicky had peace of mind that she and her children could remain safely housed during the coldest months of a global pandemic.
Learn more about your rights as a tenant and get help at www.FreeEvictionHelp.org. If you are struggling with a civil legal issue impacting your housing, contact Legal Aid by applying for help anytime online at www.lasclev.org or by calling 888-817-8777 during weekday business hours. You can also call United Way’s 2-1-1 line if you need further guidance.
If you have a quick question about housing rights but aren’t sure if you’re facing a civil legal issue, please call Legal Aid’s Tenant Information Line at 216-861-5955, and leave a detailed message. A housing specialist will call you back within 1-2 business days. For more information, visit: lasclev.org/tenantinfoline