Rondaline Radcliff scrolls through text messages between her and the property manager at Euclid Estates, on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Radcliff and other residents received an eviction notice giving them until June 20 to move out.
Rondaline Radcliff scrolls through text messages between her and the property manager at Euclid Estates on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Radcliff and other residents received an eviction notice giving them until June 20 to move out. Credit: Stephanie Casanova / Signal Cleveland

From the road, the Euclid Estates apartment complex in Cleveland’s Euclid-Green neighborhood appears tidy and clean.  

But inside, the view is dramatically different. The building’s interior is in shambles. Debris from the ceiling litters the first-floor hallway of the three-story building. Cables hang from the uncovered ceilings, leaving pipes and wiring visible. In some apartment units, dark stains cover walls and ceilings. A recent video one resident provided to Signal Cleveland shows water leaking from a ceiling fan. 

The complex is now the latest apartment building generating attention from Cleveland residents and housing activists for what they say are uninhabitable conditions that are the result of rogue landlords. Like many apartment buildings in Cleveland, Euclid Estates is owned by an out-of-town landlord and may have recently changed ownership.

Making life worse for the legal residents in the building is the recent water shutoff, which left them scrambling for water and answers. It’s unclear if the landlord shut off the water or if the city did.  

Rondaline Radcliff, her husband and her five-year-old daughter have lived in Euclid Estates since 2019. 

“You cannot have people living in substandard housing and think that it’s OK to just collect money and have us living worse than dogs,” Radcliff said. “I would not put a dog in here. Dogs get more respect than we do. It’s more mice in here than people. [There are] roaches. Are you kidding me? It’s disgusting.”

The first floor hallway of Euclid Estates apartments has debris from the ceiling piled along the floor and light fixtures hanging by a wire from the ceiling.
The first floor hallway of Euclid Estates apartments shows debris from the ceiling piled along the floor and light fixtures hanging by a wire from the ceiling on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Residents are struggling to find a new home after they received an eviction notice and their water was shut off. Credit: Stephanie Casanova / Signal Cleveland

A Signal Cleveland reporter saw several apartments with brown and green stains on the ceiling and walls. Flies and gnats were visible. The air in the hallways was humid and smelled faintly of urine. 

Radcliff said she flushes her toilet by pouring several gallons of donated water in it. She uses candles to cover the foul smell in her home.

CMHA inspection fails, vouchers stopped

Radcliff relies on a subsidy from the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, known as a Section 8 voucher, to help pay her $650 monthly rent. 

CMHA is required to inspect the properties of landlords who accept vouchers to ensure their properties meet housing codes. But during CMHA’s most recent inspection of Euclid Estates in April, the housing authority declared the building not suitable for living. 

CMHA then sent a letter to Radcliff–and to a second resident who also received a voucher– telling them it will no longer pay the landlord because of the building violations.  

Papers and trash are scattered on the floor of an open apartment unit at Euclid Estates, on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.
Papers and trash are scattered on the floor of an open apartment unit at Euclid Estates on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Residents have been living in the apartment complex without water for weeks. Credit: Stephanie Casanova / Signal Cleveland

This means Radcliff had to jump into a tight and pricey rental market within the next 30 days and find a landlord who accepts vouchers.

The rental market is pricey for everyone but for low-income renters it is smothering.

According to RentCafe, only 5% of the city’s apartment rent is in the $501 to $701 range. Less than 40% of renters are paying less than $1000.

It’s largely up to Radcliff to vet landlords, a CMHA spokesperson said. Though CMHA partners with a group of volunteers who search for affordable housing online, the volunteers don’t contact property owners.  

A CMHA employee sent Radcliff a list of properties from affordablehousing.com, a website of rental listings that includes landlords who accept Section 8 vouchers. Radcliff said she planned to reach out to some of the properties this week.

Activists step in to provide water

The Greater Cleveland Housing Justice Coalition is trying to help residents of Euclid Estates, said Mike Bellamy, a coalition member. Bellamy and others from the coalition have been dropping off water for the residents. 

A gray and yellow map shows the Euclid-Green neighborhood bordered in red with large yellow letters reading "Euclild-Green. The Euclid-Green neighborhood is southeast of South Collinwood on Cleveland's northeast side.
The Euclid-Green neighborhood is southeast of South Collinwood on Cleveland’s northeast side. Credit: Jeff Haynes / Signal Cleveland

The housing coalition first talked with residents more than a year ago, around January 2022, Bellamy said. At the time, residents were living without heat, he said. 

“Turns out it’s constantly a problem,” he said. “Maintenance is always an issue. Utilities get shut off.”

The coalition’s main goal is helping tenants organize and form associations. But even a year ago, the tenants at Euclid Estates didn’t want to organize. They wanted to leave. 

A paper trail of violations

Records from the Cleveland Building and Housing Department show the apartment building was cited for a lack of heat in February.  That code violation  had not been fixed a month later. 

Radcliff teared up when talking about her daughter’s health issues, which she said are exacerbated by the poor housing conditions. 

“With no heat in the winter, my daughter continued to be sick,” Radcliff said. “She already has asthma and epilepsy, and she was continuously back and forth in the hospital.”

The city also cited the building in October for “holes, cracks, loose deteriorated material and water damage” in the ceilings in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and hallways, records show. 

Radcliff and other residents have received two notices on their door. One says their lease is being terminated and they have 30 days to move out. The other notice lists phone numbers for local housing agencies.

Residents don’t know who their landlord is

The termination notice lists Euclid Equities, LLC as the landlord, with a phone number that is disconnected. Property records list Beyond Beaches, LLC and Beyond Blue Sea, LLC as ownership companies. Trisha Raymond, with Beyond Beaches, told Signal Cleveland the company no longer owns the property, having sold it about a week ago. 

CMHA told Signal Cleveland it notified Beyond Blue Sea, the last landlord of record, that it was no longer paying rent for those receiving vouchers.

The entrance to Euclid Estates, 17500 Euclid Ave., is shown on a sunny day with clear skies, on Wednesday, May 31, 2023
The entrance to Euclid Estates looks tidy. Inside debris covers hallways and wires hang from open ceilings. Credit: Stephanie Casanova / Signal Cleveland

Since then, Radcliff said she’s been struggling to find a new place to live. She hasn’t heard back from most of the landlords she called from affordablehousing.com. She said that even if she lines up a possible place, she will struggle to pay for non-refundable application fees, a deposit, and first and last month’s rent. 

Once she finds a place, CMHA has to inspect it and work with the landlord and the resident on a rent-payment agreement. That process typically takes CMHA around 60 days, a spokesperson told Signal Cleveland. 

Radcliff has until June 20 to find her family a new home. 

“I don’t know where I’m gonna take my child and my husband to lay our heads,” Radcliff said.

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Criminal Justice Reporter (she/her)
Stephanie, who covered criminal justice and breaking news at the Chicago Tribune, is a bilingual journalist with a passion for storytelling that is inclusive and reflects the diversity of the communities she covers. She has been a reporter and copy editor for local newspapers in South Dakota, Kansas and Arizona. Stephanie is also a Maynard 200 alumni, a Maynard Institute for Journalism Education training program for journalists of color that focuses on making newsrooms more equitable, diverse and anti-racist.