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New Program Benefits All in Community

Posted March 29, 2021
1:21 pm

The COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly hard on renters who have lost income and jobs. The threat of eviction and homelessness looms large for thousands of families across Northeast Ohio. Meanwhile, landlords are struggling, too. Landlords rely on their tenants’ rent for their own bills and financial stability.

Recently, Legal Aid attorney Lauren Hamilton secured a positive outcome for both her client and his landlord, Ms. Harris (name changed to protect privacy).  Ms. Harris was so pleased with the respect and consideration that was shown to her throughout the entire process that she emailed Legal Aid leadership to express her gratitude.

In her note, landlord Ms. Harris described feeling frustrated when she first found out that the eviction hearing would be postponed because her client was entitled to an attorney through Cleveland’s new Right to Counsel law, which provides free access to an attorney for certain tenants facing eviction.

Ms. Harris was representing herself pro se because she could not afford an attorney herself. The tenant had missed several months of rent payments at this point, and further delays in the case created an added burden for Ms. Harris.  However, after the second hearing date, Ms. Harris spoke with Attorney Hamilton on the phone and found out that, “all this time the tenant thought that I had received rental assistance, because he was working with a nonprofit organization that he thought had helped him.”  Ms. Harris explained that she had not received any rental assistance funding, and Lauren reassured her that she would figure out what had happened.

The tenant Legal Aid represented was a dedicated father who had just welcomed back his five children into his home after they spent some time in foster care. Injuries he sustained from a gunshot wound to the head had made steady work difficult, but he was doing his best to provide for his family. He had applied for rental assistance funds through CHN Housing Partners, but missed an email, and his application was declined. Attorney Hamilton connected with CHN and arranged for the application to be reconsidered. Soon after, Ms. Harris says she received notice from CHN that the rental assistance funds were approved.

“This was all due to Attorney Hamilton,” Ms. Harris writes “Not only did she represent my tenant, but she also was able to help me to get the funding I needed to be able to keep this property.  I can honestly say that Attorney Hamilton is an excellent attorney; she has the passion to take care of all people and she is trying to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Ms. Harris shared further “I am happy to say that my tenant is able to stay in his home. He has stable employment now and Attorney Hamilton has made herself available for us to facilitate any future problems.  But, I don’t see that happening because she created a new foundation for us to better communicate… there are not enough words to say about how much Attorney Hamilton is appreciated.”

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