Right to Counsel in Evictions Saves Homes; Creates Significant Benefit for Community

News Release              

Media contacts: 
Katie Connell, United Way of Greater Cleveland: 404.895.5513 and kconnell@unitedwaycleveland.org
Melanie Shakarian, Legal Aid: 216.215.0074 and melanie.shakarian@lasclev.org

This week, United Way of Greater Cleveland and The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland delivered an independent evaluation to City of Cleveland leaders highlighting the success of Cleveland’s Right to Counsel in eviction cases.

Since the implementation of Right to Counsel in 2020, Legal Aid has been successful in avoiding disruptive displacement for 90% of Right to Counsel clients facing eviction.

Stout’s evaluation of Cleveland’s Right to Counsel in 2022 resulted in updated insights including, but not limited to, how Right to Counsel:

  • Prevents Evictions and Helps Tenants Achieve their Goals
  • Identifies and Responds to Poor Housing Conditions
  • Responds to an Eviction Crisis that Disproportionately Impacts Black and Female Households
  • Leverages Interventions, like Rental Assistance
  • Creates Economic and Fiscal Benefits
  • Promotes Access to Justice: Significant Increase in Eligible Tenants Who Accessed a Lawyer

Prior to the launch of Right to Counsel, Court data indicated that only 1%-2% of all tenants were represented by an attorney in eviction proceedings in Cleveland. Based on Stout’s analysis, in 2022 more people asserted their Right to Counsel, and approximately 79% of all eligible Cleveland households facing eviction were represented by Legal Aid.

Stout estimates that since July 2020, Cleveland or Cuyahoga County likely realized economic and fiscal benefits of up to $14 million because of the Right to Counsel in Cleveland Housing Court.

Read more in this report at www.FreeEvictionHelpResults.org.

In 2019, Cleveland City Council passed Cleveland’s Right to Counsel ordinance with a recognition that “a lack of legal counsel for low-income tenants with minor children during eviction cases is a violation of a basic human right.”  Through Cleveland Codified Ordinance 375.12, the city became the first in the Midwest and only fourth in the United States to provide such a right.  Launched on July 1, 2020, Right to Counsel Cleveland provides a right to free legal representation pursuant to the ordinance. This right is delivered to eligible households through a partnership between United Way and Legal Aid.


About United Way of Greater Cleveland

Founded in 1900, United Way of Greater Cleveland is a local, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting poverty across the Greater Cleveland area. The largest private-sector investor in health and human services, United Way, invests in efforts that address poverty using a two-pronged approach. The first prong focuses on the daily issues affecting those living in poverty, the Community Hub for Basic Needs. The second drives research and innovation through the Impact Institute, a think tank with an action plan focused on identifying long-term solutions to break the cycle of poverty. For more information, visit unitedwaycleveland.org and twitter.com/UnitedWayCLE.

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