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Community advocacy group recommends several changes to Cleveland tax abatement program

Cleveland Skyline
Posted at 8:56 PM, Apr 26, 2022

CLEVELAND, Ohio — This map really puts it all into perspective, the green you see depicts where Cleveland homes are listed for market rate, while purple is a representation of underinvested neighborhoods.

Cleveland Neighborhood Tiers
Cleveland Neighborhood Tiers

Edward Stockhausen with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress helped put this map together.

“Policymakers have been looking at this issue for years,” said Stockhausen.

Now Stockhausen is part of an initiative to reform Cleveland’s tax abatement program, an initiative that he says will bring a lot more green to the map.

“While changes won’t happen overnight, policy can help push things in the right direction,” said Stockhausen. “That’s why in neighborhoods like across the east side and parts of the westside where there has been significant disinvestment over the last decade, tax abatement should encourage more investment in those neighborhoods.”

The Equitable Community Development working group is proposing these 10 recommendations to the program:

  1. Tax abatements for single-family housing should be capped.
  2. Tax abatement should be geographically targeted based on the health of neighborhood housing markets, as summarized in the map developed by the Department of Community Development. (See attached map.)
  3. Tax abatement policy should include exceptions to the cap for certain policy priorities.
  4. Tax abatement should maintain the current green building standards.
  5. Tax abatement should further incentivize affordable housing; rehabilitation and renovation; transit-oriented development; first-time homebuyers; multi-family workforce housing; and single-family workforce housing.
  6. Tax abatements for multi-family, market-rate housing should require Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) that address minority hiring goals, workforce development goals and other neighborhood-specific hiring goals; and include a clawback provision that would rescind the tax abatement for non-compliance.
  7. Changes made to tax abatement should be phased in, rather than immediately implemented.
  8. The Department of Community Development should annually monitor and report on tax abatement.
  9. The Department of Community Development should implement a digital application process for tax abatements.
  10. The Department of Community Development should submit a report to the Mayor and to City Council 18 months after reauthorization of the tax abatement policy, outlining all process improvements made and those that are still in progress.

“People want to live across the city of Cleveland, whether it’s in Westpark or neighborhoods on the east side in amazing communities like Hough or Saint Clair and Superior, affordable housing in those areas should be tax abated to the full amount,” said Stockhausen.

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