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Councilmembers fight to make homeownership a reality for Clevelanders

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 6:56 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A windfall of federal dollars may give Cleveland residents the chance at homeownership.

City council members said now is the time to lift people out of poverty.

About $511 million is coming to the city of Cleveland in COVID relief funds.

19 Investigates continues to track where the money could go and how it could help our city.

We found housing is a big priority.

We discovered $111,605,500 is allocated for housing and homeownership, according to the ARPA priorities list we obtained from Cleveland City Hall.

This list of plans for funds came from the mayor’s office, city council and advocacy groups.

Less than half of Cleveland residents own their own homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That’s well below the national average of nearly 65%.

Some city council members are trying to change that.

“For decades we’ve seen in our neighborhoods that the housing markets have done different things and have recovered differently. Especially In our communities and neighborhoods that have been systemically redlined over the years, we haven’t seen those areas rebound like in other regions or areas of the city of Cleveland,” Councilmember Kerry McCormack said.

McCormack said these dollars can transform lives.

“Number one, folks can’t get loans. Even if they can afford to pay the mortgage, we still have areas of the city where banks won’t lend,” he said.

He pointed out a lot of renters would pay less for mortgages if they could just make the down payment.

Grants could help with this and so could bank assistance for loans.

Another idea includes funding home rehab and maintenance to help seniors stay in their homes.

“We know that a home in America is one of the best ways to build generational wealth. So you can see why investing in these financial tools can help stabilize our neighborhoods, but then actually build wealth among our residents,” McCormack said.

Stable housing can be a strong foundation.

And McCormack said he’s seen assistance like this help people turn their lives around.

“We’ve got to be able to look back in five, 10, 15 years and see that where these investments went, they actually moved the dial on the economy and the well-being of the city of Cleveland,” McCormack said.

“We can’t get this wrong, we’ve got to use the money wisely,” he said.

We also spoke with Councilmember Mike Polensek.

He wants the city to stop subsidizing large-scale apartment buildings and help build single-family homes instead.

Also in the plan, we found millions of dollars would go toward renters, including tenant support and eviction prevention.

Funds would also go to demolishing vacant properties.

Cleveland City Council has to approve all of the legislation covering relief funds.

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