Grandparents raise grandchildren in unique Cleveland public housing

Posted at 6:36 PM, Oct 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-08 18:36:39-04

It’s the only one of its kind in the state of Ohio and only one of seven in the country — a community of grandparents raising grandchildren.

It’s called Griot Village, part of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. Located near East 80th Street and Central Avenue, the cluster of buildings is home to 40 units, all of them full.

The unique intergenerational housing complex was created in 2014 and since then, it’s been such a success that public housing officials from all over the country and even from overseas have come to Griot Village to see if it is something they can replicate in their own cities.

“A lot of people are surprised this type of housing even exists,” said Kristie Groves, the director of resident services for CMHA.

Residents must be 55 or older, with permanent custody of children.

In many cases, that’s grandparents raising grandchildren or great-aunts and great-uncles raising younger family members.

“Usually individuals who are 55 and older live in senior housing and they don’t allow children so this is a village of sorts where everyone comes together, raising children and it’s a community environment,” Groves explained.

In Beverly Shipp’s case, the 60-year-old is raising two teenagers she adopted when they were toddlers.

“I was a foster parent for like 27 years and so when I got Jaziah and Zyree, I wanted to keep them. Their mom wasn’t able to get them back so I adopted them,” Shipp said.

Shipp is one of the original tenants of Griot Village, grateful to have such a community to raise her children.

“We really stick together and it’s just a beautiful place,” Shipp said. “Because it does take a village to nowadays to raise our children and they all need the help that they can get.”

The beauty of Griot Village, Groves said, is the incredible amount of support that is given to both grandparents and children — both individually and together. They’re also offered health and nutrition classes to tutoring. Groves said none of it would be possible if it wasn’t for the strong partnerships CMHA has, particularly with the Fairfax Renaissance Community Development Corporation.