The Truth Staff
Local governments and area agencies announced a new eviction prevention initiative on Thursday, April 21, in order to “create resources within our community … to prevent evictions,” said Gary Byers, president of the Lucas County Board of Commissions as he opened the press conference that would feature comments from representatives of those bodies explaining how they would contribute to the new effort.
The Eviction Prevention League is the brainchild of Michael Hart, executive director of the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board (TLCHB). The concept creates a partnership among Lucas County, the City of Toledo along with the following agencies: Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO). The Fair Housing Center, Access to Basic Legal Education (ABLE); Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC); Pathway Inc; Lucas Metropolitan Housing (LMH), Area Office on Aging and United Way of Greater Toledo.
The Homelessness Board will act as a lead facilitator of the collaborative and will provide leadership “to ensure the sustainability and success of this effort,” according to the prepared statement from the Board. Other entities will provide expertise and resources according to their resources to eliminate and prevent evictions in a much earlier stage than is now the case.
The TLCHB will provide services that will include case coordination, navigation of community resources and providing referral services to Eviction Prevention partners. The Lucas County Commissions are providing the initial funding to support the resources.
LAWO and ABLE, for example, will provide legal resources; United Way provides a free, confidential, around the clock, multilingual information line and website that connects people with the services and resources in their communities; Pathway provides financial assistance; LISC implements best-practice programs that support equitable communities of opportunities; LMH attempts to resolve unpaid rent issues as the largest landlord in northwest Ohio and Area Office on Aging works with seniors to help them remain in their homes.
The need for expanded, collaborative action was summed up by George Thomas, vice president and general counsel of the Fair Housing Center.
Evictions filed in Lucas County for just the first quarter of 2022, noted Thomas, totaled 1298. “The people affected are the most vulnerable. The new eviction prevention initiative, said Thomas, will be “a new energized commitment to all working together – we will try to resolve disputes before evictions occur.”
The Fair Housing Center has organized a Landlord-Tenant Mediation program to alleviate tensions between landlords and tenants and will continue to use this program to deal with eviction issues – other agencies will refer parties to the program as part of the Eviction Prevention League.
“This is another great day for Lucas County,” said Jay Black, CEO of Pathway, Inc., as he explained the funds that were made available to his agency during the pandemic with the American Rescue Plan Act – Pathway helped over 5,000 families avoid eviction with rental assistance.
LMH, as the largest landlord in the area, will continue to work with local service providers to connect households to rental assistance programs when appropriate. “We want to make sure that those families that are housed today remain housed,” said Joaquin Cintron Vega, LMH CEO.
The 211 hotline is open around the clock to aid those who have questions or issues with housing matters.