Saturday, March 14, 2009

CTO Wins Anisfield Wolf Award!!!

Tenants Organization Voted Outstanding Human Service Non-Profit

Pictured is Mike Piepsny accepting the $20,000 award from the Center for Community Solutions and the Cleveland Foundation. Here is the CTO press release.

The Cleveland Tenants Organization (CTO) was named the recipient of the 2009 Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award at today's 67th annual Human Services Institute presented by The Center for Community Solutions. The Center administers the annual award, funded by The Cleveland Foundation with a fiver person panel selecting the winner from the applications..

In presenting the award to Michael J. Piepsny, Executive Director of CTO, Cleveland Foundation Senior Vice President Robert Eckhardt noted that the organization was selected in honor of its innovative and proactive efforts to prevent renters living in properties facing foreclosure from being removed from their homes with little notice.

The program, which CTO initiated in 2008, developed as a result of a wonderful public/private collaborative effort. For the past two years, CTO has received hundreds of calls from renters living in property facing foreclosure. United Way's First Call for Help line contacted CTO due to an increase in similar calls, and, after researching the limited rights available to tenants living in the properties, it was agreed that all calls should be diverted to the Cleveland Tenants Organization. In response to the growing crisis, CTO, working with our partners at the County offices of Development and Homelessness, The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, Policy Matters Ohio, Cleveland Mediation Center, Neighborhood Housing Services, and United Way First Call for Help, developed the new program to directly notify renters living in properties that appear on the Court of Common Pleas foreclosure docket.

CTO has been able to provide notification of the foreclosure to over 3,000 renters, who, without the advanced warning, face immediate eviction from their homes. A foreclosure induced Sherriff’s sale terminates any existing lease at the property.

CTO's work has been instrumental in demonstrating the need for State action to protect these clients. State Representative Mike Foley, former CTO Executive Director and current Chairman of the Housing and Urban Revitalization Committee, has recently introduced House Bill 9 along with State Representative Celeste to offer some protection for these renters. The bill requires the landlord to notify renters of a foreclosure within one month of the filing, allowing the renting family time to find alternative safe, decent, affordable housing, as well as the time necessary to save for new rent, security deposit, and moving expenses. The bill also protects renters by turning an existing lease at the time of property transfer into a month-to-month lease. The simple change will allow families an additional month to relocate without the threat of eviction on their record.

We congratulate CTO on their great work. I especially enjoyed Eckhardt's introduction in which he pointedly remarked that CTO started this project without funding. Hint, hint, wink, wink all the rest of you non-profits out there in the audience--start doing stuff without constantly coming to us for money. It was also nice that the recipient was able to say a few words to the crowd. I don't remember the winner speaking to the crowd in the past.


Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

No comments: