Volunteer Lawyers Project
The Docket
Eviction Crisis: You Can Make a Difference

The Volunteer Lawyers Project and the Legal Aid Society are working together to prevent hundreds of low-income families in Southwest Ohio from being evicted.

The Problem

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented unemployment, causing tenants to fall behind on rent through no fault of their own.
Paige Berry pictured helping her two daughters with their homework in the apartment where they face eviction. Photo taken by Meg Vogel, Cincinnati Enquirer.
Current unemployment rates are disproportionately higher among people of color . Resulting evictions, therefore, are another extension of the gross racial inequities that have been exacerbated by the economic fallout of COVID-19. Property owners and tenant advocates agree that the tenants at the lowest end of the economic spectrum, especially people of color, will be the hardest hit .

A Solution

Before COVID-19, Legal Aid launched its Eviction Prevention Assistance program in partnership with St. Vincent de Paul, Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency, the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. In response to COVID-19, Legal Aid’s Eviction Prevention Assistance program has grown, thanks to new sources of funding from Strategies to End Homelessness and additional dollars from existing partners.

Legal Aid advocates are connecting tenants to these sources of rental assistance and negotiating eviction dismissals. And Legal Aid continues to represent tenants who have managed to stay current in their rent but have eviction defenses, such as landlord retaliation or poor conditions.

What Can YOU Do?

Volunteer attorneys have long helped expand the number of tenants represented in evictions. The role of volunteer attorneys is more crucial than ever.

Attorneys can volunteer to represent tenants in evictions:
  1. where the tenant has applied for and is waiting on rent assistance from a local agency, and
  2. where the tenant is current in their rent and has a valid defense.

If you are an active VLP volunteer, please email Tonya Young ( tyoung@lascinti.org ) telling her you can take a case.

If you are not yet a VLP volunteer, please register here .

If you’d like eviction training materials, or if you have any questions, please email Elizabeth Zak ( ezak@lascinti.org ). 
UC Law students learn more about the VLP at
 UC First Look.
Research & Writing Help for VLP Volunteer Attorneys

Virtual summer law clerks are here.  This summer, in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati College of Law, VLP volunteer attorneys will have access to a law student volunteer panel comprised of rising 3L students . This collaboration is a win-win for the VLP and Cincinnati Law.

Typically, these students would be employed for the summer, but this is not a typical summer for anyone. No assignment is too big or too small. The students want to utilize what they have learned and to build on their prior experience. They are another tool to help you help our clients. To have a law student help you with an assignment, simply contact Jim Tomaszewski at the UC College of Law, at tomaszja@uc.edu .  
Update on Fee Waivers: Ohio Supreme Court Issues Uniform Affidavit

Since early 2019, a mandatory, objective test of income and expenses has guided Ohio courts on civil litigants’ requests for fee waivers. In April 2020 , the Ohio Supreme Court issued the statewide uniform Affidavit of Indigency referenced in (B)(1) of the statute. VLP created a fillable version of Form 20: Civil Fee Waiver Affidavit and Order .

R.C. 2323.311 instructs all state courts and clerks of court as follows:
  • When a litigant initiates a civil proceeding accompanied with an Affidavit of Indigency, the clerk must accept it.
  • Courts shall approve a fee waiver for a litigant whose income is at/below 187.5% of the Federal Poverty Level and whose expenses are at/above their income.

All Municipal Courts and Common Pleas Divisions, including Juvenile and Probate, are subject to R.C. 2323.311. See R.C. 2746.10 .

Ohio’s mandatory waiver of court costs for low-income civil litigants echoes the conversations of courts, nationwide, on how their fines, fees, and bail practices may have a disparate impact on the poor and on racial minorities.
Coming Soon: CLE this August

Watch for an announcement on our free CLE video series scheduled to take place in August.
Visit our website to stay up to date!