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New 2024 report highlights significant community benefit of Right to Counsel

Posted February 7, 2024
9:00 am

In 2023, 81% of people helped through Right to Counsel avoided an eviction or involuntary move as a result of the partnership between United Way and Legal Aid.

This week, for the fourth year in a row, United Way of Greater Cleveland and The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland delivered an independent evaluation to the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County leaders, highlighting the success of Cleveland’s Right to Counsel in eviction cases.

From January 1 through December 31, 2023, Legal Aid assisted 4,519 Cleveland residents in 1,234 eviction Right to Counsel cases. In 2023, 81% of people helped through Right to Counsel prevented an eviction or an involuntary move.

Stout estimates Legal Aid represented between 60% and 80% of all households in Cleveland that were likely eligible for Right to Counsel. Prior to Right to Counsel, only 2% to 3% of all tenants had representation. Post Right to Counsel, representation has increased to 16%, which is a 433% increase since the inception of the partnership.

“For Legal Aid, we envision communities where all people experience dignity and justice, free from poverty and oppression. Our leadership in the national Right to Counsel movement represents the bold steps that drive progress and allow us to envision a brighter future,” states Colleen Cotter, Executive Director of Legal Aid. “This new evaluation highlights how our public-private partnership continues to create great outcomes for individuals and the community.”

Stout’s 2024 evaluation of Cleveland’s Right to Counsel in 2023 resulted in updated insights including, but not limited to, how Right to Counsel:

“United Way is proud to partner with Legal Aid on Right to Counsel – Cleveland,” said Ken Surratt, Chief Development and Investment Officer at United Way of Greater Cleveland. “RTC-C is doing what it was created to do - empower tenants, prevent unjust evictions, and protect safe, affordable, and stable housing for Cleveland families.”

About Right to Counsel Cleveland: In 2019, Cleveland City Council passed Cleveland’s Right to Counsel ordinance with a recognition that “a lack of legal counsel for low-income tenants with minor children during eviction cases is a violation of a basic human right.”  Through Cleveland Codified Ordinance 375.12, the city became the first in the Midwest and only the fourth in the United States to provide such a right. Launched on July 1, 2020, as a partnership between United Way of Greater Cleveland and The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Right to Counsel Cleveland provides a right to free legal representation to eligible households pursuant to the ordinance.


2024 Independent Evaluation:

Questions or have a media interview request? Contact:
Melanie Shakarian, Legal Aid or 216-215-0074

Katie Connell, United Way or 404-895-5513


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