Posted August 11, 20219:20 am
On July 12, 2021, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland Executive Director Colleen Cotter, supervising attorney Hazel Remesch, and United Way Vice President of Community Investment Andrew Katusin presented an update on Free Eviction Help work happening in Cuyahoga County. Cuyahoga County provided funding to the partnership program as a part of the county COVID-19 relief effort.
“Most of the time, if a tenant doesn’t have an attorney, they don’t realize they may have a defense for the eviction. They don’t realize they may have the ability to advocate for that additional time. Their stuff isn’t placed on the tree lawn,” Remesch said, highlighting what legal representation included. She also noted that successful outcomes in the Free Eviction Help program included warm referrals to other support services to increase housing stability.
The CDC eviction moratorium ends July 31 and Cleveland Legal Aid and United Way of Greater Cleveland anticipate a rapid increase in evictions in the county. “Is it bulk week or is someone’s life on the tree lawn?” Katusin asked regarding the already increasing eviction numbers because of the pandemic.
Remesch and Katusin outlined the steps currently being taken to ensure representation in eviction proceedings, including showing a flier inserted into court summons and a follow up letter. While the Right to Counsel ordinance only applies to the city of Cleveland, the Free Eviction Help program has expanded to other municipal courts in the area.
Legal Aid created a toolkit for Cuyahoga County communities and courts who would like guidance on increasing access to justice for their constituents. Visit https://lasclev.org/cuyahogatoolkit/ for the toolkit and to learn more!