June 1 marked the third straight month in which rent was due in most places across the United States, during a period of consistent job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic that has led to 40 million unemployed Americans and counting.
The City of Fort Wayne is hoping to ease that burden for some residents; the Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services will invest $150,000 “to help create a Tenant Assistance Legal Clinic," in addition to $200,000 dedicated to a “financial assistance fund that helps low-income residents with rent, mortgage and utility payments.”
The funds will come from the city’s $1.7 million emergency allocation from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, as part of the federal CARES Act. This is the second allocation of those dollars, with more to come throughout the summer.
Fort Wayne will partner with Indiana Legal Services, Volunteer Lawyer Program and Brightpoint in order to, in their words, “help prevent evictions and ensure local residents have a roof over their heads.”
The Tenant Assistance Legal Clinic is operating now; low-income residents facing possible eviction should call the clinic at 260-424-9155 to be accepted into the program.
If eligible, clients will then be referred to either a volunteer attorney, who will provide legal advice and attempt to resolve the dispute out of court. An attorney will represent clients during eviction proceedings with Allen Superior Court if necessary.