Canton Breast Cancer Survivor Struggling With Eviction During Pandemic
After living there for seven years, and amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gower was evicted from the house and moved out with only some of her belongings last week. She's now staying at a North Canton hotel, unsure of what her future holds.
Gower said she began struggling to pay her $575 rent shortly after the pandemic hit Northeast Ohio, and one of her sons, who lives with her, lost his job.
Gower, who relies on social security as her sole source of income, said she paid what she could afford to the landlord, while also putting money towards some medical bills and other living expenses.
In May, the property owner, Cobra Canton Properties, served Gower and her son with a three-day notice to leave the premises and filed eviction paperwork.
In June, the attorney representing the landlord filed a motion, requesting the hearing be moved up from August to July 13. Judge John Poulous granted the request.
Gower contacted Community Legal Aid, who tried at the last minute to buy the senior extra time, but the efforts failed.
Steven McGarrity, the executive director of Community Legal Aid, said moving the court date up a month earlier during the pandemic was troubling, and made if more difficult for Gower to seek out rental assistance from area agencies.
"When you accelerate it like that, you just put these people's lives at risk. It's dangerous for the community to be having people who have nowhere else to go to put them out on the streets. If we don't give people the opportunity to explore those resources and just set the eviction hearing right away, they're not going to have the chance to save their homes," McGarrity said.
While fighting back the tears, Gower said she feels for others also facing eviction during the pandemic.