Affordable Housing Meeting

Public Housing Uses Stimulus Dollars Effectively

By Grace Gamble and Brian Davis

The community does not give enough the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority enough credit for successes.  But for the last four years, they received millions in support and quickly and efficiently built or re-built a number of properties adding hundreds of affordable housing units in Cleveland.  The monthly meeting of the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance was  July 9th and featured the CEO of CMHA, Jeffrey Patterson and senior administrator, Scott Pollock. 

CAHA was developed in 1997 and every month activists gather to hear from program officers, government officials, or local landlords about the state of affordable housing.  The July meeting besides CMHA officials also heard from Cuyahoga County Land Bank’s Chief Operating Officer Bill Whitney.  We heard about impressive number of new units created as a part of the federal stimulus program.  Some of the units are for seniors while others renovate buildings that had reached the end of their life.     

Patterson discussed CMHA’s progress and upcoming projects. CMHA recently combined its various offices into one location by moving its 400 staff to brand new central offices.  The building just received Silver LEADs certification as a “green” building.  CMHA’s upcoming projects include a Partnership Senior Building at Lee and Miles Road designated to open in December 2012 in an area of town CMHA has not had property for decades. Patterson explained that this 40-50 unit facility will address the need for senior living facilities in the Lee Road area. Another senior facility is being developed in East Cleveland; this is to be finished by the end of the year. A third project of CMHA is a 40-unit adult midrise which will be developed at 131st and Miles Pointe around the middle of 2013.

To address the need of providing housing to individuals that have custody of their grandchildren, construction on The Fairfax Intergenerational Housing will begin August. Another major project is the renovation of the Cedar Extension properties located at East 22nd and East 55th.  As well as building a new Care Alliance health care clinic beside the Cedar Extension Senior High Rise.  The townhouses will involve the relocation of the 140 residents and the replacement of the those Korean War era housing properties.  There will be other units built in other areas of Cleveland to maintain the existing housing. 

Pollack presented the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s annual statistics. It is evident from these statistics that the need for available public housing is increasing, as the number of vacant units is the lowest that it has been since 1974 at 174 vacant units that are not undergoing modernization currently. Since last year, the percentage of occupied Public Housing facilities has increased by 6.2%.  In addition the waiting list increased to 11,184 applicants with over 7,000 of those on the list looking for a one bedroom or efficiency apartment.

Contrastingly, the majority of those that live in public housing currently are either families with children (33.7%) or seniors (19.6%). Of these individuals currently receiving public housing, 22.5% are receiving no income and the average income of these individuals (including those who receive no income) is $7,087.

Total Population at CMHA Public Housing:  16,892 of 8,872 households

  • Families with Children:                     33.7%
  • Seniors                                          19.6%
  • Single adults below 50 years old       46.7%

Income Source of the tenants:

  • No income:                                       22.5%
  • Social Security                                   19.3%
  • Employed                                          17.1%
  • SSI                                                   17.0%
  • TANF                                                 4.6%
  • Average Annual Income:              $7,087

Bill Whitney reviewed the progress of the Land Bank as well as the current Neighborhood Stabilization projects. In terms of funds, the Land Bank has obtained $7 Million in delinquent property taxes per year. In addition, Cuyahoga County is eligible for $11.8 million for demolition projects.  These new funds will be matched with an additional $6 million for a total of $23 million in the next year.  Considering the fact that the Land Bank is responsible for 80% of the city’s demolitions, these funds will be advantageous as some neighborhood try to rebuild after the foreclosure crisis.     

The Land Bank currently demolishes approximately 100 properties per month.  Most of the properties are handed over from Fannie Mae or the Department of Housing and Urban Development with some small amount of funds to take down the properties that are beyond repair.  Now, banks are also beginning to hand over properties to the Land Bank.  The average demolition cost has decreased, however, from $7,500 to $6,500. More expensive is the demolition of asbestos properties which can bring the total to $40,000 a home. The Land Bank is also responsible for renovations and has currently done 15 properties to date.  They are working with various community partners to save properties and transfer them to good use.

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