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Housing Inclusion on the Near West Side

Housing Inclusion on the Near West Side of Cleveland - January 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The near west side of Cleveland is seeing a surge in demand for housing of all types that has not been seen in a generation, perhaps two. For over 30 years, Tremont West, Ohio City Inc. and our Community Development Corporation counterparts have worked diligently to address the most pressing needs of our communities and, through working with our partners in government and private enterprise, create neighborhoods with quality of life amenities for our residents while attracting capital and investment. In recent years, Tremont and Ohio City have seen an explosion in growth of market rate housing attributable to a number of factors including proximity to downtown, increased desirability of urban neighborhoods from baby boomers and millennials, walkability, and quality of life amenities. Hundreds of for sale single family houses and townhomes and more recently, apartments have been built. Yet, demand continues to outstrip supply. High demand for these neighborhoods increases competition for housing stock, causing a rise in asking price. If the demand continues unabated and without intervention, the current affordable housing stock being provided by the market (rental and for sale) will transition to higher income individuals and the neighborhoods will become more and more unattainable for those at the lower and middle portion of the income spectrum.

The following “White Paper” is an attempt to identify the emerging affordability issues facing near west side neighborhoods in Cleveland, place the neighborhoods in context with macroeconomic trends facing the region and cities’ nationally, and providing potential avenues of approach to ensuring long term affordability exists within our communities. We have an opportunity to address the issue at a time when we are witnessing the beginning of an emerging trend, the cost of entry into the market is relatively low (by national standards), and the existing population is economically diverse. The paper outlines what is currently going on in the market and projects an increase in density to help satiate demand while also providing programmatic interventions to protect affordability for different segments of incomes. Scholarly arguments exist that density alone can provide supply that outstrips demand which would inherently create more affordability in the market. We reject this argument as theoretical without taking into account land use restrictions, neighborhood typologies, and geographical constraints. We need to be proactive and to this end we offer a number of active projects and programs, ideas under development and legislative action that could be undertaken. Each has its own set of possibilities, merits and challenges. Additionally, we recognize that tools and programs exist such as federal and state housing programs (Low Income Housing Tax Credit and municipal housing authorities) that provide much of the housing at the lower income brackets. However, we perceive a growing issue to be workforce housing and believe that creative market interventions can begin to provide housing solutions for this vulnerable group. With this said, we do not pretend to have all the solutions but are committed to working to ensure development is equitable and inclusive as we move forward. We hope that you will join us in this important work.

Cory Riordan
Executive Director, Tremont West Development Corporation