The Cleveland Leadership Center was proud to partner with the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland on The Innovation Mission, a fellowship that supports local experts with groundbreaking ideas to break the cycle of poverty. Since Fall 2017, five fellows have developed their ideas and created programs to implement in Cleveland and potentially scale nationwide. Each day this week we are sharing their stories.
Supervising attorney, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
Hazel’s decade of work in housing law led her to seek a true right to counsel for tenants in eviction cases.
An eviction can be devastating and crippling. It leads to homelessness, stress, and psychological trauma. Families of color, families headed by women, children, and the elderly suffer the consequences of eviction disproportionately. Children, in particular, suffer the trauma of eviction for a lifetime, as it causes disruption in education leading to school instability.
At the Cleveland Municipal Court, more than 10,000 evictions are filed by landlords every year. In 2016, 4,576 individuals and 1,682 families entered into emergency shelters in Cuyahoga County. Many of these Clevelanders faced eviction on their path to homelessness, and eviction records often prevent tenants from gaining access to future housing.
Tenants often don’t know what their rights are and therefore cannot participate meaningfully in the eviction. Only about one percent of county residents who face eviction are represented by legal counsel.
Hazel instituted the Housing Justice Alliance at Legal Aid as part of her fellowship work. This initiative seeks to represent at least 10 percent of eviction cases by the end of its first phase, and work toward legislation for a true right to counsel in all eviction cases. In late 2018, Hazel and her colleagues at Legal Aid were able to push Cleveland Housing Court to establish a rule that would make it easier for tenants to seal eviction records and thereby prevent them from being viewed by future landlords.
Celebrate their success
The Sisters of Charity Foundation will celebrate the conclusion of The Innovation Mission with A Celebration of Innovation. All are welcome to attend this free event but registration is required.
June 12, 2019 | 4:30 – 7:00 p.m. | Global Center for Health Innovation.