Before we can clearly see what we need in housing resources, we must begin by figuring out what we have—and how we can make the most of it.
Cleveland Heights has beautiful houses. From early-20th-century Tudors and colonials to mid-century moderns and more—our homes have character and history. Our housing stock is an asset to our community, one that should be maintained, renovated, and updated to fit our evolving needs.
But all homes age and begin to fall apart. Given that most neighborhoods in Cleveland Heights were built up around the same time, they begin to need repairs and renovation all around the same time too. When many people are struggling financially, our city government needs to develop a focused approach to protecting this valuable community asset.
Our Current Housing Resources
At City Hall there are multiple departments and programs that address housing. Both the Building Department and the Planning Department work with housing issues. Included in their work are many programs, such as the Housing Preservation Office (HPO), the HOME program, the Neighborhood Stabilization program, the Grow program, the Down Payment Assistance program, and the LeadSafe program.
The city also administers the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which, with the guidance of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), provides federal funds for local programs, including some that work on housing issues for low- and moderate-income residents.
In addition, we are fortunate that we live in a city with several organizations working to address the needs of our aging (but beautiful) housing stock and, more importantly, the people who live in these homes. FutureHeights, the Home Repair Resource Center, Start Right, and the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition are all working in different ways, on different challenges, in different areas, to address different housing issues.
Planning and Coordinating of Our Current Housing Resources
So, when it comes to housing maintenance and renovation here in Cleveland Heights, we’ve got a lot going on. But what we DON’T have is someone at the helm.
We need someone to bring department, program, and organization heads together. We need structured, ongoing coordination among these different actors. The mayor needs to organize and lead these conversations to:
- Identify all of the area housing issues that need to be addressed, such as ensuring that all of our current housing is safe and livable, to preserving our beautiful home stock that makes our city distinct, to renovating properties to fit the needs of the people who live here, and more.
- Develop a guiding mission and set of priorities, which will be re-evaluated annually.
- Identify each department’s, program’s, and organization’s strengths, capacity, and available resources.
- Determine how to best use and coordinate what we currently have in order to work toward our goals.
When we have so much already going on in our city to address housing issues, before we begin adding more to the mix, we need to first make sure that we are doing the most and the best with what we’ve got.
And we do this by getting everyone together and in conversation with each other.
We need a mayor who will spearhead and lead these discussions, as well as to appoint someone at City Hall to oversee communication among everyone working on housing issues in Cleveland Heights.
Once we have done this, only then can we see where we still have deficits and how we can restructure what we have so it functions more effectively. But the first step is to take stock of what we’ve got and see just how much we can do with it if we have someone leading the way.