CLEVELAND — Local legal and housing experts report there are still too many northeast Ohio tenants facing eviction who still aren't sure how to apply for the federal eviction moratorium, established by the Centers for Disease Control, established on Sept. 4.
Melanie Shakarian with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland told News 5 tenants who have questions about filling out the declaration form should contact legal aid or the United Way's 211 Helplink system.
Shakarian said tenants need to submit the declaration form to their landlords to see if they qualify to suspend rent payments and eviction proceedings until Dec. 31, 2020.
She said tenants must meet the following qualifications:
- Making less than $198,000 this year as a couple or $99,000 as a single person.
- Trying to obtain rental assistance through various government programs.
- Being unable to pay rent because of job loss, reduced hours, or large medical bills.
- The risk of becoming homeless if evicted.
Shakarian said tenants should keep a copy of their eviction moratorium declaration form and other supporting documents, so they are prepared if they face eviction in housing court, once the moratorium is lifted.
“People shouldn’t be intimidated by the forms, it’s a one or two-page declaration," Shakarian said.
“Keeping copies of things like applications for rent assistance, acknowledgments that you applied, applications for public housing, applications for unemployment, keeping proof you’re enrollment in government benefits.”
Shakarian said tenants also need to work with their landlords in creating a rent payment plan that works for both sides once the eviction moratorium is over.
Molly Martin with the Northeast Ohio Coalition For the Homeless told News 5 her agency is once again hosting its "Housing 101" webinar series, starting on Sept. 10.
Martin said tenants facing eviction are scrambling to find the information they need during the on-going pandemic, that 1500 new eviction has been filed since the City of Cleveland lifted its eviction moratorium in June.
“Education is key because the onus ultimately falls on the renter, who will have to provide documentation, to prove they are struggling financially,” Martin said.
“That only demonstrates the need for Congress and even local officials to have the authority to provide financial assistance.”
“People who are calling, not really knowing what they actually need to show in order to qualify, is that the guidance isn’t really clear."
Martin said tenants searching for local rental assistance can apply for funding currently being administrated by CHN Housing Partners.