CLEVELAND, Ohio — Court is back in session.
"Many tenants are telling us about how they’ve lost their jobs or the provider in their household is no longer employed. That’s the story that we’re hearing over and over," said Abigail Staudt, with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, which provides legal representation to low-income and vulnerable communities.
What You Need To Know
- In Northeast Ohio, eviction hearings are underway again for the first time since March
- Many of the hearings will be happening virtually
- The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County are offering rental assistance to those who need it
Staudt says she’s expecting a lot of calls as people start getting their notices about eviction hearings.
"It’s really hitting our renters in a much greater way than the last economic downturns and crises," said Staudt. "I mean, the whole push has been for people to stay home. If you’re evicted from your house, you cannot stay home."
Many of the hearings will be happening virtually, which Staudt says can have some challenges, like when calling witnesses, but she does see some possible advantages.
"The parties don’t have to go downtown, park their car, find childcare, do a bunch of things that make the process of attending in person difficult," said Staudt.
The City of Cleveland is also stepping in to keep people in their homes. Mayor Frank Jackson announced that the city has set aside $11.3 million for rental assistance.
The Cuyahoga County Council is reviewing a $6.8 million proposal to help renters affected financially by the pandemic.
"It allows tenants to stay in their unit when that connection is made. It also allows landlords to receive the income that they need in order to pay their mortgages, to keep their properties up, to maintain their business," said Staudt.
The City of Cleveland's Department of Community Development is managing the COVID-19-related rental assistance program. And those who need legal help for eviction concerns but can't afford to hire an attorney can reach out to the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland for help.