Advocates Say Cuyahoga County Housing Program Should Include Renters

A boarded-up house in East Cleveland photographed in December 2018.
A boarded-up house in East Cleveland photographed in December 2018. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
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Housing advocates are urging Cuyahoga County Council to make money available for renters, and other groups in the county’s new housing plan.

The six-year housing program commits $5 million annually to renovations, home repairs, small-dollar mortgage assistance and developing the market. The county will share the cost with the Cuyahoga Land Bank.

A collection of advocates told council they largely support the legislation, but want money freed up for other housing needs—for example, emergency and short-term rental help.

“The addition of this program element will support low- and moderate-income families by maintaining stable housing and prevention of evictions,” Erica Anthony with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress said.

Anthony said rental assistance would address “the county’s growing crisis with housing insecurity.” She said a flexible housing fund could also help people returning from incarceration, those in need of financial planning help and families leaving lead-contaminated homes.

Council President Dan Brady said he’s willing to keep talking about the issues for future legislation, but wanted this piece to be “narrowly focused.”

“I am trying to do what I think is a practical, significant step in the stabilization and rehabilitation of housing in this community,” Brady said.

Brady said he supported efforts at fair housing made by those who addressed council, but that he didn’t intend for the legislation to try to accomplish everything.

“This legislation is not designed to do these things,” he said. “And I don’t believe that it can be that comprehensive and I think we’ll still be sitting here next year if we try to follow that path.”

The community development committee approved the plan with two amendments.

One allows the land bank to perform demolitions under the program, but gives cities and townships the ability to veto work on particular parcels.

The other amendment increases the share of the program paid for with casino revenues.

Councilman Dale Miller, who chairs the finance committee, said the housing program should not draw on money in the general fund. He noted a number of pressures on the county budget including a multimillion-dollar commitment to hire more corrections officers at the troubled county jail.

“The general fund is facing very serious challenges,” Miller said.

The legislation now heads to the full council.

Watch the full committee meeting below:

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