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'It's actually getting worse': Cleveland's east, inner ring suburbs show slow growth, challenges

Posted at 10:50 PM, Sep 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-18 09:41:56-04

A new study assembled by Frank Ford, and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, shows a lopsided Cuyahoga County housing recovery, with relatively low housing value growth on Cleveland's east side and the inner-ring suburbs.

The 71-page report titled "Housing Market Recovery in Cuyahoga County: Race and Geography Still Matter," outlines improvements, with dropping foreclosures and more tax delinquent property owners now on payment plans, while profiling recovery difficulties in Cleveland's east side neighborhoods, and inner ring suburbs, like Garfield Heights, Maple Heights and East Cleveland.

Ford told News 5 significant improvements have been made since the 2008 housing crash, but he said the inner-ring suburbs, in predominately African American communities, are facing issues and challenges, with tragic losses in home equity, slow property value growth, and not enough access to loans for home improvement.

"It's actually getting worse, the disparities for predominately African American neighborhoods are actually growing," Ford said.

"The impact of a low housing market recovery is much greater in predominately African American communities."  

Ford said leaders in the banking industry have to come up with a way to provide greater access to home improvement loans in these distressed communities.

"If banks were to create a special loan officer compensation policy within their institution, that allowed for specific compensation for loans to the east side of Cleveland," Ford said.

Maple Heights Mayor Annette Blackwell agreed with the report findings and told News 5 banks have to provide better access to resources for neighborhoods and cities that have not recovered as quickly.

"You have to have diversity and inclusion at the table where these decisions are being made, on the boards, in the banking commission," Blackwell said.

"We're not equal, but yet the credit criteria, all those hoops we've got to jump through, are the same as anyone who is more affluent has to make, but it's not an equal playing field."

Andy Nikiforovs, Executive Director with Community Housing Solutions, stressed the positive side of the report, telling News 5 his agency is now helping hundreds of homeowners, who are property tax delinquent, get on payment plans. 

Still, Nikiforvos stressed the need for more financial resources for the inner-ring suburbs.

"It's a lack of adequate resources in the inner ring suburbs, particularly for African American households,' said Nikiforvos.

"Government officials, as well as the lending institutions really need to work together to develop a plan to make those kinds of resources available."