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Tenants, landlords with 'nowhere else to turn' get answers on rent assistance program from News 5 Investigator

News 5 getting answers for tenants and landlords still having problems with rental assistance program
Posted at 5:03 PM, Mar 24, 2023

CLEVELAND — There have been more problems for some local tenants and landlords waiting for taxpayer, federal help with their rent; help that was promised to them. We’ve heard from you since our News 5 Investigation into the program and we’re following through on your concerns.

“This has been a long 4.5 months of my life,” said Latanya Hiley, 61, of Maple Heights.

First, it was COVID.

“I was an interpreter for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and they shut down,” said Hiley.

TENANTS SENT TO HOUSING COURT

Then, she eventually needed help with her rent. She said she had to go to housing court for an eviction hearing and saw a flyer about a COVID-relief federal rental assistance program through CHN Housing Partners. CHN approved her and told her a check would come in mid-January. It never did.

Hiley’s landlord was getting anxious. “It was really nerve-wracking wondering what day they was going to come and put another note on my door,” she told us.

Hiley showed us a three-day notice to move out that she received. CHN was not responding to her cries for help.

“I seen you on the news and what was going on,” she told us. “And I figured I would call for your help because I had nowhere else to turn.”

Since we started looking into this, we’ve heard from more than 50 people — some who had COVID, couldn’t go to work and needed this program. But it’s not just tenants. We’ve also been contacted by landlords desperate to be heard as well.

SOME LANDLORDS LEFT WONDERING, TOO

“I trusted this program,” said Kim Belton, who is a landlord for a different property in Cleveland. The application was approved. She said she received some money from CHN but not the rest.

“What’s that like for you?” we asked.

“It’s been a little rough trying to keep up with my bills,” replied Belton.

Laura Boustani from CHN Housing Partners did not want to go on camera with us this time. She told us mistakes have been made in closing out the $100 million highly regulated program that did help more than 21,000 families. CHN has never handled a program like this before.

CHN HOUSING PARTNERS' RESPONSE

Boustani said “CHN understands that it’s hard to end any assistance program, but the decisions we gave clients were consistent with treasury guidelines… We wish we had more resources as we closed out the program so we could have had better communication with clients.”

“I was calling, at first, daily. There was no response,” said Belton. “No one called me back.”

After News 5 Investigators worked with CHN on many of your concerns, we’ve been able to get people answers. Belton now has her check, and we went to bat for Hiley.

“We are told that ‘Latanya’s file was just in the last batch and it will be cut tomorrow’…the check,” we told her, reading from a recent text we received from CHN.

“Oh! Praise God!” laughed Hiley with a sign of relief on her face. “Real good to know that I can stay in my place and I can stay independent.”

Her landlord has now gotten the much-needed money.

IF YOU'RE STILL HAVING ISSUES...

We are continuing to hear from you about problems with the rental assistance program. CHN is not taking any new applications and said the money has run out.

However, if you’ve been approved and been given a disbursement date but no check has arrived, call our tip line at 216-431-4357 or email us at InvestigatorTips@WEWS.com.

Watch our first investigation into the CHN program below:

Were tenants approved? Sort of. News 5 helps during rental program confusion

RELATED: Were they approved? Sort of. News 5 Investigators help tenants and landlords left wondering about rent help

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