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A tale of two Clevelands: Experts show lopsided recovery from 2008 housing crash

Posted at 10:49 PM, Oct 23, 2018
and last updated 2019-02-05 09:42:54-05

Cleveland leaders and neighborhood experts have pointed out a lopsided recovery from the 2008 housing crash in some Cleveland neighborhoods and inner-ring suburbs.

Frank Ford, Senior Policy Advisor with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, author of "Housing Market Recovery in Cuyahoga County: Race and Geography Still Matter," told News 5 the disparity in economic recovery can be seen on many levels.

Ford's 71-page report showed a significant reduction in Cuyahoga County foreclosures since the housing bust, but Ford said his data shows a gap when it comes to access to loans in predominately African American neighborhoods.

"The disparities for predominately African American neighborhoods are actually growing," said Ford.

"Loan officers are showing an unwillingness to write loans in these communities," he said.

Maple Heights Mayor Annette Blackwell told News 5, some banks are responding with new programs to help families in these neighborhoods, but she said banks also need to re-examine their criteria when it comes to loan approvals.

"We have to look at trade line of credit in a way that fits the customer that you're serving, the credit score can't be the only determining factor," said Blackwell.

Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis told News 5 the disparity is the result of decades of economic divide, long before predatory lending victimized thousands of homeowners during the housing crash.

"We're talking about generations of poverty, that's what you're talking about when you're talking about the tale of two Cleveland's," said Rokakis.

"Cuyahoga County came up with a housing plan in 2017, but can we find the funding needed to let it have an impact in Northeast Ohio's hardest-hit neighborhoods.

Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli said fewer owner-occupied homes, rental homes owned by out-of-town owners, and a lack of neighborhood resources have also contributed to a much slower recovery in Cleveland neighborhoods like Slavic Village, Hough, Glenville, and others.

"Our slow recovery in some neighborhoods has created some potentially hazardous homes," said Brancatelli.  

"The fact that you leave these kind of properties wide open with all these children coming and going, this is just complete irresponsibility."

In response to this uneven recovery, News 5 has now launched the "A Better Land" initiative, which will include a series of investigations into the growing gap in our regional recovery.

It's our goal to uncover what caused this lopsided recovery and help to uncover solutions and heroes who are already making a difference.

News 5 is hoping you'll tell us about your issues, give us your comments, and share your insights and solutions on our "A Better Land" page.