Call to action: Cleveland needs to address lack of low-income housing options
To the Editor:
(Plain Press, May 2021) My name is Paul Sherlock and last Friday (April 9th) my friend Jim Schlecht and I staged a protest of four apartment development sites currently underway on the Near West Side of Cleveland. We were protesting the lack of low-income housing options in our beloved community. We are frustrated that a large number of taxpayer subsidized projects are going up in desirable areas like the Near West Side, and we ask the question, in a city where the poverty rate is almost 31%, where is the city’s investment into low-income housing?
Identifying three specific projects currently underway or recently completed we protest the financial incentives these and other projects have received from local politicians at the City and County level along with some cases where projects also received State and Federal support through loans or historical tax credits.
The Dexter: 29-million-dollar development;112 market rate apartments; 15-year tax abatement worth $330,000 a year or $4.956 million for the entire life of the abatement. Receives tax increment financing which is money that goes back to the developer to defray some of their costs -source Robert Higgs Cleveland.com.
Market Square: 135-million-dollar development; 300 market rate apartments; 15-year tax abatement; 4-million-dollar tax increment financing that helps to defray developers costs; 2 million dollar tax deferred loan from the Port of Cleveland -source Robert Higgs cleveland.com.
Tinnerman Lofts: 10-million-dollar project; 50 market rate apartments; 265,000 dollars tax increment financing; 1.7 million dollars state historic preservation tax credits -source Robert Higgs Cleveland.com.
Other developments on the Near West Side that have received tax credits:
Snavely development on West 26th and Detroit -source Robert Higgs cleveland.com; West 25th Street Lofts at W 25th and Church -source Brad Stanhope Novogradec; Church and State on Detroit -source Stan Bullard Crains Cleveland; and Lincoln Building on Scranton -source Robert Higgs cleveland.com.
By no means is this a comprehensive list of projects that have received government assistance, there are more just on the west side alone. All projects are market rate rentals which for the Quarter (Snavely) and Church and State is $2.27 per square foot or $2,270 a month for a 1,000 square foot apartment (I learned this information during a protest of the Church and State project at a Cuyahoga County Committee hearing). Concerning tax increment financing, this incentive is intended to boost development in blighted areas, Ohio City is hardly a blighted area.
When it comes to market rate projects in a community, they have an impact in multiple ways both economic and noneconomic. Concerning two of the ways it harms economically, one is the gentrification of a neighborhood through the driving out of people who can no longer pay the increased housing costs. Two is the reduction in available financial resources for the city to provide to other parts of the community that could truly use a cash infusion to spur economic development.
We are asking for a call to action, we want city council to hear dissenting voices to their largesse towards wealthy developers (Casto the developers of Dexter, Snavely, and Harbor Bay the developers of Market Square, all fit in that category), when the council members should be focusing on providing low-cost options for people who are either unsheltered or marginalized. City council should also be focusing their financial power on development in economically challenged communities. We don’t need to incentivize developers to build in areas that are economically desirable, not in a city that has a poverty rate of 30.8 percent which has earned us the distinction of the poorest big city in the United States.
Please write to your Cleveland City council members or the mayor, links are in the comment section below. Even if you are not a resident of the city, you can still make your voice known to city council and the mayor. We have an obligation to helping people who are marginalized in our society, if not morally, then economically. It is far less expensive to provide someone with housing than it is to address their needs when they are unsheltered.
For general inquiries to Cleveland City Council go to: https://clevelandcitycouncil.org/contact. At this same page you can also get links to specific council members.
To contact Mayor Frank Jackson, go to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Near West Side