EngagedScholarship@CSU Full Report-Re-Thinking the Future of Cleveland' s Neighborhood Developers: Interim Report Repository Citation Re-Thinking the Future of Cleveland's Neighborhood Developers: Interim Report

Norman Krumholz, Kathryn Hexter, Norman Krumholz, And Hexter, Kathryn, Norman Krumholz, Kathryn Hexter, Maxine Goodman, Levin
Reinvestment Act of 1977 yielded important tools for addressing the negative effects of redlining and market disinvestment in neighborhoods. Efforts were also made to make housing more affordable by placing controls on home heating and fuel costs for low-income households. Early community developers worked with mortgage subsidies, tool rental programs and clean-up campaigns to improve neighborhood appearance in the hope that doing so would attract new homeowners and lead to healthier
more » ... ealthier neighborhoods. These early community developers were pragmatic and non-ideological. Their successes made them attractive to philanthropies and government agencies which increasingly turned toward community developers to address basic urban problems. Over the past two decades, the community development system in Cleveland has been tremendously successful building thousands of new and rehabilitated housing units in neighborhoods throughout the city and developing new retail, commercial and industrial space as well. The system worked because community developers were able to swiftly and effectively adapt as funders made resources more available for physical revitalization. But the jump in foreclosures and the subsequent collapse of the housing market in 2008 makes clear that that moment has now passed, and much of the public, private, and philanthropic investment in neighborhoods is now at risk as home values plummet and surrounding properties are vacant, abandoned, and vandalized. The further erosion of an already weak housing market has resulted in widespread abandonment and foreclosure of property in almost all of Cleveland's neighborhoods. It is likely to result in a shakeout of the community development industry that will favor organizations which are not overly-invested in rising real estate values and that have the flexibility and Re-Thinking the Future of Cleveland's Neighborhood Developers: Interim Report 3 entrepreneurial drive to seek new partners. This moment also provides a window of opportunity for community developers and their funders to revisit what community development means and what community developers should do. Beyond Housing Community developers must take a hard look at their current organizations, practices, and strategies and adapt to emerging conditions. Doing so is not surrendering to pessimism, but recognizing a pathway forward. Realizing the opportunity requires that community developers start re-thinking approaches to their work. Funders and investors have recognized that plans and strategies need to be re-worked. A strategy based on physical development as a cure for neighborhood ills made sense in a particular historical moment of cheap credit and a sustained, albeit slow, rise in real-estate values. Those circumstances no longer exist in Cleveland, and the challenge for the future is thinking through new roles for neighborhood developers that have the potential for sustained success. This study has been underway since June 2011. The purpose is to help practitioners, funders, policy makers, and applied researchers understand the opportunities for, and the challenges to "growing" or extending the community development system beyond housing and physical development, the traditional focus of Community Development Corporations (CDCs). Together or individually, we have interviewed 42 key individuals so far among the CDCs, city and county agencies including the County Land Bank, representatives of local foundations and banks, and key intermediary organizations such as the Cleveland Housing Network, Neighborhood Progress, Inc., University Circle, Inc., and Enterprise Community Partners. (see attached list) The following observations and impressions have been garnered Re-Thinking the Future of Cleveland's Neighborhood Developers: Interim Report 4