Man claims unjust eviction by CHA
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Nov 20, 2012 | 1724 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A local man complained recently to the Cleveland City Council that he was unjustly evicted from his home by the Cleveland Housing Authority.

Lee Buckner said he received notice he was in violation of the rental agreement because his father-in-law was living in the apartment. He said he was evicted from his unit though he proved he did not break his rental agreement.

“I went to the post office and proved that [Buckner’s in-law] wasn’t receiving his mail at my address,” Buckner said. “Instead of giving me a board hearing, they gave me a court date. The day I was supposed to go to court, my son died.”

Housing Executive Director Paul Dellinger said Friday that Lee Buckner, who is employed, was evicted for nonpayment of rent, and for no other reason.

“Mr. Buckner was given every opportunity to cure the nonpayment within the parameters of the Landlord Tenant Act. He chose not to do so,” Dellinger said.

Buckner said he managed to get the court date rescheduled, but eventually had to move. He said the judge stated that even if he did stay the eviction, “It wouldn’t be long before they’d have me right back up there for something else.”

Dellinger said, “He had his days in court and Judge Daniel Swafford ruled based on the facts presented. Unfortunately, in this case there are no winners. Families lose valuable housing assistance and CHA spends scarce and shrinking resources on legal proceedings, and thus loses revenue that could be used to assist other families in need. Evictions are costly and painful for all concerned, and my staff goes to great lengths to avoid it, but regrettably it is necessary from time to time.”

Vice Mayor Avery Johnson and At-Large Councilman George Poe said they believed Buckner’s side of the story.

“I’ve heard so many stories about public housing, how they are abusing people, taking advantage of people and creating hardship after hardship on people,” Johnson said.

The vice mayor said it bothers him that the board does not listen to its tenants.

“Something really needs to be done with that board over there. They really need to start listening to their people,” he said.

Mayor Tom Rowland said he would get Buckner an audience with the housing board. The mayor said he could not make the housing authority let him back in because it operates under federal law.

Dellinger said Buckner failed to pay April rent by April 10. CHA issued a 14-day notice that rent was to be paid in full by April 25. CHA filed a detainer for nonpayment on April 26.

Sessions Court Judge Swafford heard the case on May 9 and provided Buckner 10 days to vacate the apartment. He was afforded additional time on May 23, giving Buckner until June 4 to vacate the apartment. Sessions court served a writ of possession June 12, at which time CHA regained possession of the apartment, Dellinger said.

Rowland said the housing board meets on an as-needed basis.