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The number of people behind on their water bills in the Cleveland area has tripled during the pandemic. Now, almost one in every four water accounts are behind by at least one bill, as the city has resumed water shutoffs for nonpayment. Everyday people like 63-year-old Janet Gill-Cooks are struggling to pay their utility bills, and to navigate the systems of assistance that are available for utility bills. What can be done about this problem?
It’s a happy ending to a sad, sordid chapter in the city’s history: Cleveland City Council last week voted to use $750,000-800,000 from its Neighborhood Transformation Initiative to help low-income tenants in the city’s Buckeye neighborhood stay in their homes. About 40 lease-purchase renters were defrauded by their former landlord, the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation (BSSDC). The city will provide them with low-dollar mortgages and forgivable down payment assistance so they can become homeowners.
Cleveland is one of seven cities in the U.S. that has enacted a right to counsel program that provides free legal representation to tenants facing eviction. Early statistics from the program’s first year of operation show promising results – dozens of evictions prevented despite a federal moratorium on evictions – but what will happen when that moratorium ends?
The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) recently awarded a $1 million tax credit to encourage construction of the Cuyahoga TAY (Transitional Age Youth) development, a complex of 50 supportive housing units for adults ages 18 to 24. There, residents will receive voluntary services to help maintain their housing and work with experts to set goals related to housing stability, education, and other areas of personal and financial well-being.