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Local United Way warns thousands of evictions are looming without moratorium extension

Local United Way warns thousands of evictions are looming without moratorium extension
Local United Way warns thousands of evictions are looming without moratorium extension
Posted at 10:34 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 23:11:26-05

CLEVELAND — The United Way of Greater Cleveland issued a warning that local eviction cases could skyrocket in the beginning of 2021 if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't extend its eviction moratorium past the current Dec. 31 deadline.

United Way CEO Augie Napoli said Congress must also approve a second COVID-19 stimulus package within the next two weeks to extend rental assistance to local landlords who would have to deal with an eviction moratorium extension.

Napoli said the homes of some of Northeast Ohio's most vulnerable families are hanging in the balance.

“It’s shameful and it’s unacceptable that politics are being played," Napoli said. “It’s really created a life and death situation here in Cleveland. There are about 76,000 people in Cuyahoga County, renters, who are facing or are at risk for eviction. About 80% of those households are led by women of color, and at least 60% had at least one child in that home. On top of that, they’re unable to pay their bills or put food on the table due to job losses, the effect that it has on their children.”

Judge W. Mona’ Scott with the Cleveland Housing Court has prepared her court for a possible spike in eviction cases, and said the ongoing moratorium has played a roll in reducing eviction cases, with her court going from 500 cases a week in January to under 200 a week last month.

Scott said her court has put additional COVID-19 safety measures in place, including web technology that will help families who do not have access to the internet and Zoom for virtual court appearances.

“They have to be able to come here, even though we don’t want to have the hearing in person, so we created the Zoom kiosk," Scott said. “And that allows them to participate for those that are unable to use Zoom. We’re in a crisis, a pandemic, and that no one should move if we can help pay for their rent.

“We’re heavily impoverished unfortunately, along with the children that stay in those households, and so it is a positive thing if can get the moratorium continued along with rental assistance for landlords. In 2021 one of the biggest challenges is just dealing with evictions. They can’t pay, and I really don’t want to evict them, and I’m saying there is rental assistance. The entire team of housing court specialists are now certified in mediation, and so they can step-in and assists the magistrates with that.”

News 5 reached out to the CDC in Washington D.C. and asked if it's considering extending its eviction moratorium, but we're still waiting for a statement.