Facing Eviction? Legal Aid Can Help!
by Tonya Sams
On August 26, the Supreme Court’s decision not to extend the federal eviction moratorium has left many tenants who lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic fearful of losing their housing. Northeast Ohioans at risk of eviction can get help through the new Free Eviction Help program, a collaboration between The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and United Way’s 2-1-1 service. Free Eviction Help provides free legal representation to tenants facing eviction.
The program has already helped many people in our region stay in their current housing or find new living accommodations. Another benefit is that children can remain in school without worrying about disruptions caused by displacement and homelessness.
People who contact Free Eviction Help may also qualify for Cleveland’s Right to Counsel (RTC) program, which applies to households with at least one child and incomes at or below the federal poverty guideline. Through RTC, eligible tenants now have the explicit legal right to free legal representation in their eviction cases.
Hazel G. Remesch, Legal Aid’s Managing Attorney in the housing law practice group, has been able to help many clients from being evicted.
“There is a lot of trauma that comes with facing eviction,” said Hazel. “The uncertainty causes stress. We help our clients by putting dignity into the process. They know that they have an advocate by their side, helping them make informed decisions. We are able to give them a softer landing than they would have without an attorney.”
Hazel reflected on a recent eviction case, saying, “The client had a history of acute seizures, was a rape survivor, and suffered from PTSD. She was not able to pay her rent for a year, but because of her (Legal Aid) attorney, she was able to get rent assistance and stay in her unit. She ended up getting approved for $12,000 in rent assistance, which covered three months of future rent.”
Resources are also available through United Way’s 211 and also the Cleveland Housing Network (CHN) Housing Partners Family Stability Initiative. CHN provides assistance with eviction cases, helps homeowners avoid foreclosure, and assists with paying utilities.
To find out if you qualify for help, contact Legal Aid at 216-861-5835 or apply via 2-1-1 chat box/phone number. You can also learn more about your rights and apply for help online at www.FreeEvictionHelp.org
Editor’s Note: The author of this article, Tonya Sams, is a Development and Communications Assistant at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland