Cleveland employers offer incentive for employees to live in, build up neighborhoods near work

CLEVELAND - Live, work, play: it's more than a catchy slogan for one Cleveland neighborhood. For hundreds of employees in University Circle, it's now a way of life.

Housing there is now in high demand. More than 500 new apartments are coming online in the next few months to meet that growing demand.

For the last decade, one organization has been laying the groundwork for the massive growth we're seeing there today.

"I'm a Cleveland native, but I boomeranged back almost five years ago," said proud homeowner Dionne Broadus.

During that time, Broadus rented. She now lives in a condo across the street from where she works at Case Western Reserve University.

"It makes your free time more efficient, you can use it instead of having to commute," said Broadus.

Case is just one of dozens of employers in and near University Circle that offers an incentive for employees who want to call this neighborhood home.

"This is a wonderful community," said Broadus.

Broadus received $30,000 from Case and Greater Circle Living to help offset the cost of buying her home.

"Greater Circle Living, through the employers, have invested $5.3 million and it's leveraged about $37-38 million," said Laverne Peakes with Greater Circle Living.

Eligible employees can not only receive a financial boost to buy these houses, grant money is available to help cover rent and remodel existing homes.

"New driveways, cut down trees, new windows, painting," said Peakes.

The improvements and investment reach well beyond University Circle. A handful of surrounding neighborhoods are also part of the program.

"Hough, Glenville, Fairfax, Little Italy, East Cleveland, Buckeye-Shaker, St. Clair-Superior, Central Midtown," said Peakes.

Any nonprofit employee in those areas can get a $10,000 forgivable purchase loan to put down roots where they work.

"It has made people think about the Greater Circle neighborhood in a different way, in a more positive way," said Peakes.

More than 450 people have taken advantage of the incentives over the last ten years, staying close to work while strengthening their community along the way.

"It's a very full and rich program that has done a lot to bring new residents and neighbors to the Circle," said Broadus.

Soon Greater Circle Living won't be the only player in town. MetroHealth is looking to launch a similar incentive program to get its employees to invest in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood on the city's west side.

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