Posted March 23, 202211:13 am
By Eric Heisig
CLEVELAND, Ohio — The city of Cleveland is poised this year to put an additional $200,000 into its annual contribution for a program that provides lawyers for poor clients to give them a fair shot in court when they face eviction.
The decision by City Council to approve a $1.8 billion means that the city’s contribution to the Right to Counsel program will be $500,000 for this year. The rest of the money for the program, which cost the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the United Way of Greater Cleveland $2.7 million to run last year, mostly comes from grants and philanthropic donations.
The program offers attorneys for eviction cases in Cleveland Housing Court to renters with at least one child that live at or below the federal poverty line, which for a family of three is $23,030.
Legal Aid Executive Director Colleen Cotter estimated in February that the program will cost $3.2 million in 2022, because attorneys will likely take on more cases, in part because of the ending and phasing down of pandemic-relief programs.
Both Legal Aid and United Way said they appreciated the increased investment by the city.
Cotter said in a statement, however, that “we continue to seek additional funding from the city and other agencies for 2022 and beyond.
“We have also received significant philanthropic support as this program gets off the ground,” she said. “We’ve been able to piece together the budget in this diversified way.”
And a separate statement from Cotter and United Way President and CEO Augie Napoli said both agencies will continue to push the city to expand the program and allow more poor people to take advantage of having a free lawyer. People without children currently do not qualify, and that leaves out vulnerable groups, including seniors, they said.
Officials running the program have said hundreds of renters were provided lawyers since it started in mid-2020. In the Housing Court, about 18% of renters who had pending eviction cases against them in 2021 were represented, compared to about 2% before the program started, according to a report prepared by the Stout Risius Ross banking and advisory firm of Chicago.
The report also said that the program yielded an estimated $4.3 million to $4.7 million in benefits last year, which came through a combination of savings in social services programs, money that continued to come into Cleveland schools because of children not being displaced, and other benefits.
Original story can be found at cleveland.com: Cleveland allocates $200,000 more to provide lawyers to impoverished renters facing eviction - cleveland.com