The Cleveland Department of Aging offers help for some senior residents and residents with disabilities through its Chore Services Program. The services include:

  • Leaf raking
  • Snow shoveling
  • Indoor chores such as installing smoke detectors
  • Grass cutting

Spots in the program fill up quickly. For 2023 the city has already reached capacity for its senior lawn care service, Mary McNamara, director of the department said. Generally, the city can serve about 1,200 residents, depending on contractor availability. In 2022, the department served 1,255 residents in the program.

In April, Cleveland City Council passed legislation adding up to $65,000 to support that service.

City Council also taps some community development corporations (CDCs), which are nonprofits that aim to revitalize neighborhoods, to supplement the city program, according to McNamara. Council often directs discretionary casino revenue funds to CDCs for this work. The legislation council approved in April is one example, with Union-Miles Development Corp. providing the service. The applications all go through the Department of Aging, which then shares approved applicants’ information with participating CDCs.

Documenter Kellie Morris covered the April meeting and came away with an essential question.

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How do people sign up for Cleveland’s senior lawn care program?

What we learned

When should you sign up?

Residents can ask to be put on the mailing list throughout the year. Residents should aim to call before Feb. 1 in the year they want service, McNamara said. The department sends out applications for the Chore Services Program around Valentine’s Day and hopes to finalize grass-cutting routes by spring.

How do I get an application?

  • Call the Department of Aging at 216-664-4694 to request the application for the Chore Services Program application by mail. (If you participated in the program in the previous year, you should already be on the mailing list.)
  • Mark on the application that you want grass cutting.
  • Mail the application to the Department of Aging with the provided envelope. Applicants can also fax the completed application, email a photo or scan of it, or request that city officials pick it up from their homes. The program office’s fax number is 216-420-9395, and the preferred email address is

How do I know if I am eligible?

Grass cutting is the most popular of the four services, Mary McNamara, said. The senior lawn care service includes free grass cutting for seniors or residents who receive a disability payment. To be eligible, the home must be in Cleveland, and the household must include the homeowner. All members of the household must be at least 60 years old or be on disability. They cannot live with someone capable of providing the service. Grandparents who care for grandchildren who are minors and cannot assist are eligible, McNamara said. Only single- and two-family homes qualify. There are no income requirements.

More context

What lawn care services does the program provide?

Residents who are signed up for lawn care service should expect the city or one of its contractors to cut their grass once a month. They’ll also blow away the loose grass. On occasion, CDCs will cut a resident’s grass more than once a month.

“It’s not a landscaping service,” McNamara said. “It’s really to prevent people from getting citations from the health department.”

The city can issue citations for grass taller than eight inches.

When does the service run?

It typically runs May through October. It could start earlier if the weather is nice.

Is enrollment first-come, first-serve? 

No. Several weeks after applications are sent out, the department begins to fill spots until it reaches capacity, McNamara said. Priority is given to applicants age 80 and older and to those who use a wheelchair ramp. If necessary, the department may also prioritize applicants in city wards with a higher population of senior residents.

Is the application available online?

People can find the application online before the Chore Services Program reaches capacity. At that point, the city takes it down to avoid frustrating residents who apply for a service that is not available, McNamara said. Regardless, residents cannot fill out and submit the application online. It must be filled out by hand.

“For the individuals I’m serving, because of the digital divide, we find that filling it out on paper…I feel like that best serves our population,” McNamara said.

Have an experience with Cleveland’s senior lawn care service that you’d like to share? Take a minute to fill out this form.

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Assignment Editor (he/him)
Doug, a Cleveland Documenter since 2020, has been a copy editor and reporter. His work includes: The Pace of Passage about how quickly Cleveland City Council passes legislation; a look at the challenges of the city’s Exterior Home Paint program; and University Circle Police Department’s complaint-review process. Doug has also written explainers and guides and launched #CLEDocsAnswers, which answers questions Documenters have about local government.

Cleveland Documenters pays and trains people to cover public meetings where government officials discuss important issues and decide how to spend taxpayer money.