Eviction aid story prompts $50K donation to Slavic Village Development

A January feature article about how Slavic Village Development (SVD) is helping residents who are struggling to pay their rents during the pandemic sparked action by one generous reader.

 SVD announced last Monday, March 16 that it received a $50,000 gift from an anonymous donor. According to the donor’s instructions, the funds will be divided between housing stability assistance, a business assistance fund, support of Community Stewards, and SVD’s operating reserve fund.

The donation was made in response to a January, 27 story by Daniel Polletta, “Eviction aid: Slavic Village Development helps residents struggling with rent,” published by FreshWater Cleveland, The Land, Ideastream, and others as part of  the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative (NEO SoJo).

The story examined the challenges many renters are facing during the pandemic and how issues are exacerbated by paperwork requirements and other bureaucratic barriers.  It also featured efforts by SVD to cut through some of those restrictions and provide relief to some renters facing eviction.

“We were completely floored by the generosity of our donor. In speaking with them, they emphasized how touched they were by the care shown by our staff towards our residents,” said Christopher Alvarado, SVD executive director, in a press release. “While community development corporations usually work almost exclusively on ‘brick-and-mortar’ projects that build new homes or create spaces for businesses, we have taken direction from our residents who have asked us to help folks stay in place.”

SVD’s Healthy Homes Initiative, led by SVD housing outreach specialist Lynn Rodemann, works directly with residents who are in danger of eviction due to missing rent or who may lose access to power, water, or heat when utility bills are missed. While SVD staff members first work with existing partners such as CHN Housing Partners or EDEN, Inc. to extend a lifeline to households, not every applicant in need meets the requirements for assistance.

“This donation will go to help over 500 families in Slavic Village who are in need of a safety net in these trying times, says Rodemann, who was profiled in Polletta’s “Eviction Aid” story. “These funds are helping to make sure we all make it to the other side of the pandemic together, and safely.”

FreshWater is a member of the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative, which is composed of 20-plus Northeast Ohio news outlets.

Maria McGinnis is a senior journalism major at Kent State University and an editorial intern at The Land.