The housing stock in Brook Park, Cleveland, and Lakewood is not new. Much like in the fields of economic development and education, we must reassess how we approach the topic of housing in Cuyahoga County. Instead of defining victory as the number of new housing starts, we must also take into account how the revitalization of our current housing stock also benefits our neighborhoods and county as a whole.

Our homes are usually the biggest investment we make, and protecting their value and integrity is one of the fundamental ways county government can help improve our neighborhoods. In the meantime, we must ensure that new housing starts continue but that residents are consulted thoroughly before developers begin building.

  • Since residential properties make up a great majority of our county’s property tax base, even a small increase in the value of housing real estate will lead to incremental tax revenue increases
  • A development imposed upon a neighborhood without adequate residential engagement, or which displaces large numbers of residents, is unacceptable. County and city government cannot rely upon developers, whose primary goal is short-term monetary gains, not long-term improvements an stability
  • Whenever feasible, new housing units should be mixed income, not just upper or lower income
  • Cooperation and partnerships are key to our county’s success
    • Non-housing entities must consider how their projects will affect neighborhood housing (transit, school districts, etc.) and housing authorities should think of how their projects will affect other groups
      • 4 areas offer especially strong synergies w/housing investment
      • Open spaces (squares & plazas, mini-parks, playgrounds, community greens, parks, waterfronts); schools; transit stops & hubs; commercial development
      • Connect housing efforts/investments with investments in other facets of county life
      • Transit areas and greater access to public transportation can, and should, be created where they don’t already sufficiently exist
  • Upkeep and Rehabilitation
    • Occupied houses in need of repair should be addressed
      • Through assistance to struggling homeowners
      • Programs to buy out irresponsible absentee owners & fix up properties for resale to home-buyers
    • Linkage fees
      • Developers building houses or commercial buildings throughout the county should be assessed a nominal fee per square foot, especially on any development over $500,000; unlike in other cities where these fees are used solely for new home-building , we should use the collected money for residential repairs, preservation, and upkeep of our county’s current housing stock
  • Rehabilitation, Preservation, and Upkeep
    • Should be equal to the focus on new development
    • Offer incentives like tax abatements for preservation & restoration of affordable housing
    • Provide access to flexible, affordable financing to buy, improve, and refinance existing single and multifamily buildings
    • Support CDC efforts to provide lower income housing through scattered-site & small-scale rehabbing of existing units integrated with neighborhood revitalization strategies
    • Help lower income homeowners to make improvement to their homes
  • Expanded educational efforts which will help first-time homeowners better navigate the process from start to finish an to combat practices like predatory lending
  • Better programs for first time buyers and minority home-buyers
  • Questions policymakers & developers should be asking
    • What groups make up potential market for a new development?
    • What type of housing products will be most attractive to those groups?
    • What design & site planning features will be most attractive to the market & build a strong, sustainable community?
    • What amenities are necessary or desirable in order to stimulate the market for housing development in a particular location AND build the community?
    • What are the location’s assets?
      • We must identify and build upon a site’s assets:  i.e. quality of housing stock, location, presence of distinct amenities like park, magnet school, or transit hub
    • What other amenities (parks, waterfront, major institutions, dining/entertainment) does the area offer and how should they be integrated into the neighborhood’s redevelopment?
    • How should development and construction be phased in?