EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — East Cleveland council members and some homeowners believe they have been left out of the process in having input on how federal pandemic relief funds will be distributed to property owners to help them make badly needed repairs.
East Cleveland Councilman-at-large, Nathaniel Martin, said he and the cities four other council members have not been included in the decision making process by Mayor Brandon King.
Martin believes the mayor has unfairly moved forward in deciding that each qualifying homeowner will receive $3,000 each to make home repairs and has already accepted hundreds of applications for the funds, without getting input and approval from East Cleveland city council.
Martin said he and the other council members believe each qualifying homeowner should receive $5,000 each.
"I find that deplorable from the standpoint that we are to serve the citizens of East Cleveland," Martin said. "It isn’t about a power trip or an ego trip. We’re not against the $3,000, we’re saying $5,000, sit down and maybe there is some common ground at $4,000. But to not sit down with us with us is unacceptable. It’s a disrespect to the council, it’s a disrespect to the council body. There’s five of us and one of him. I tried to have a meeting with him, he never got back to me.”
East Cleveland homeowner Lateek Shabazz agrees at least $5,000 per qualifying homeowner is needed to make a significant impact in helping to improve the city's aging housing stock.
“Well I need to have my second floor rewired, and I’d like to change my piping because a lot of children are getting lead poisoning by these old pipes," Shabazz said. “Some people right now, if they had to do some work, it would be $10,000. That $5,000 would be half of that. Some of us are doing this on our own.”
Ward 2 East Cleveland Councilwoman Juanita Gowdy said she has also be unable to reach the mayor to discuss how much in federal funds should be given to each homeowner. Gowdy believes the mayor needs to be more transparent on how $13 million in federal funds in 2021, and another $13 million in 2022, will be distributed.
Gowdy agrees qualifying homeowners need more than just the $3,000 proposed by the mayor.
“They need steps, they need porches, they need everything, you know windows,” Gowdy said. “And this is going to disturb the citizens too, who really need this $5,000.”
News 5 made several attempts to reach Mayor King to get his side of the story, and whether or not he'd finally sit down with his city council and give council members input on the process, but so far he has not issued a response.
Council members told News 5 they are demanding the Mayor respond, with federal home improvement dollars set to be distributed in East Cleveland sometime this October.