Cleveland Tenants Organization shutting down over funding losses

Cleveland Tenants Organization shutting down over funding losses

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Cleveland Tenants Organization (CTO) is shutting down.

They've helped thousands of people keep a roof over their heads over the last 40 years.

Employees at CTO have been advocates for the people who need help the most--mainly low income renters being taken advantage of by slumlords.

The organization had worked tirelessly to advocate for people, walking them through the complex web of renter's rights.

Hundreds of people would have lost their homes without them.

The board of directors voted to suspend operations because they're out of funding.

In a statement, they said financial support has slowly declined in the last decade.

But not all hope is lost for those who need somewhere to turn.

"It's heartbreaking to us, with Cleveland Tenants Organization closing their doors this week. But they approached us because they know what our strengths are in terms of outreach and community education," said Melanie Shakarian with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

Legal Aid is taking over, and the hotline will continue to run.

Lawyers there will help handle housing disputes.

"Right now, demand is quite high. For every two people that come to us for help, we have to turn one person away. These are people who have cases of legal merit, they're low income, but the demand is really great in Cleveland, so we always can have more resources to serve more people," Shakarian said.

She says the transition will be seamless.

Legal Aid has 43 attorneys and hundreds of volunteers on staff to take on renter cases.

"So we're trying to fill the gap as much as we can, we're approaching funders hopefully to expand resources," she said.

Copyright 2018 WOIO. All rights reserved.