The Southeast Side: Cleveland wants to invest $15 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money on the Southeast Side. The initiative would support neighborhoods that Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration says the public and private sectors have neglected. The city is honing in on Lee-Harvard, Mt. Pleasant and Union-Miles. The committee discussed three $5 million proposals for:
- Loans and grants for home repair and rehabilitation
- Preparing vacant sites for development
- Revitalizing five key commercial corridors
Leery of lending: The Cleveland City Council’s Zoning Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee advanced the three proposals. But some members expressed concern about projects relying on loans. Council Member Anthony Hairston asked why the city would provide more money for home repair loans than it would for rehab grants ($4 million to $1 million). Jeff Epstein, a city official, said the loans for home repair would be forgivable.
Other council members expressed skepticism about banks lending to residents to begin with. Council Member Joe Jones, whose Ward 1 includes Lee-Harvard, said residents often cannot get a loan to buy a neighboring property. Outside investors can, he said.
Council Member Kerry McCormack said systemic racism has influenced lending practices. He asked how the city can ensure these proposals are successful. “If a Ward 1 resident in three years still can’t get a loan, none of this conversation matters,” he said.
Progress starts with the city showing banks that it has a concrete plan for the investment, according to Director of Community Development Alyssa Hernandez.
Green space at Gracemount: Janet Williams, president of the Shaker Lee Block Club, made a public comment. Williams urged officials to maintain green space at Gracemount, a closed elementary school in Lee-Harvard. She also expressed concerns about traffic congestion.
Read the Twitter thread by Documenter Regina Samuels: