Click on any candidate’s name to read his/her responses.

Dear Fellow Citizens of Cleveland Heights:

We each have an important decision to make in the September 14th Primary and then in the November General Election – who will be our first-ever elected Mayor; who has the best ideas and experience to move our city forward?  

Your GCC Cleveland Heights Housing Team’s concern is blighted, investor-owned housing and the need for economic development, especially in underserved neighborhoods like Noble.  We have built knowledge and expertise as we have acted and advocated over the past 6 years for new approaches to the complex housing issues and racial inequities that occurred as a result of predatory lending and the foreclosure crisis of 2007 (see Background Information below).

Housing is our city’s primary asset; well-maintained housing contributes positively to our tax base; blighted housing diminishes it.  The decisions our new Mayor will make in that regard are critical.  

To help you determine the candidate you feel best qualified to deal with housing issues, our Team posed questions to all candidates, questions that we believe are urgent.  Responses are unedited; posted as received from each candidate.  Simply click on a candidate’s name to read his/her responses. 

Here are the questions we asked:

1. Council has stated that housing is its #1 priority.  Do you agree with that priority?  Why or why not?  If you agree, what action(s) will you take immediately to make that clear?  Be specific.

2. Our Housing Team is concerned about “problem properties,” defined as those that are investor or bank-owned and in deteriorated condition.  What specifically would you do as Mayor to address this issue?  

3. In the Caledonia portion of the Noble neighborhood, 40% of recent property transfers were to investors, often at very low prices.  Homeownership is a strength of a neighborhood.  What initiatives would you pursue to attract homeowners to buy and live in Noble?  How would you fund such efforts?  

4. There has been very little development in the Noble area compared to other neighborhoods.  What are the redevelopment needs/opportunities you see in Noble?  Which one would you pursue first and what specific steps will you take to make it happen?

Background:

Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) is a non-partisan coalition of 32 member organizations who work together to be a powerful force for change, creating justice and opportunity in Greater Cleveland by uniting our faith communities and civic partners across lines of race, class and religion.   

In January of 2016, 100 Cleveland Heights residents, members of GCC congregations, came together to consider local issues of concern we might work together to address.  The issue identified was seriously blighted properties that were negatively impacting the neighborhoods of Cleveland Heights, an issue caused by predatory lending and the 2007 foreclosure crisis that followed.  

 

The GCC Cleveland Heights Housing Team was formed to consider ways to address this issue.  

The Team decided to focus on the Noble Neighborhood, a neighborhood that was struggling; its property values remained below market and close to half of the City’s vacant foreclosed properties were in Noble.  It is a neighborhood of attractive and relatively affordable homes, but it was also a neighborhood at risk, unless action was taken.  

From the beginning, the Team has focused on addressing the “worst of the worst,” bank or investor-owned properties in deteriorated condition, as critical to restoring property values.

A sampling of the Team’s actions includes:

– In 2016-7, US Bank held the largest number of foreclosures in Noble, many in deplorable condition.  We wrote the Board of Directors to seek remedy.  Bank executives came to Cleveland twice, to meet with us and tour their bad properties.  In the end, good connections were made for our City and US Bank donated $50,000 to Home Repair Resource Center for a purchase renovation program and $70,000 to Future Heights for a market study of the Noble commercial corridor.

– In 2018, we invited City Council, Administration and Court on a Trolley Tour of 19 seriously blighted bank and investor-owned properties hoping to spur our leaders to action.  Shortly thereafter, Council voted housing its #1 priority—and we continue to encourage them to be accountable to that commitment

– Also in 2018, when we learned the City had decided not to pursue foreclosure bond legislation to ensure that banks maintain their foreclosed properties, we arranged a conference call with Canton officials to discuss that City’s positive experience with such legislation, a call that moved our City Manager from opposition to “we should do it!”

– In 2019, 50 GCC volunteers walked every street in Noble to identify blighted properties.  Our Team researched ownership of each property and provided the City a report of all investor or bank-owned properties identified as blighted, requesting the City to take action.

– More recently, we have focused on the reorganization of the Housing Department and the ideas and recommendations of the Novak Report – and have urged our City to act.

Unfortunately, it is increasingly apparent that these issues, and the priority of housing in general, will be left for our newly elected Mayor to consider/lead.  It is our Team’s hope that the questions we have posed to the candidates will focus their attention and get their “wheels turning,” so to speak – and that their responses will help citizens determine who is most ready to step to the plate and lead.