CH council candidate Cuda says housing is the key
As a candidate for Cleveland Heights City Council, I hear you loud and clear; you want our government to be more accountable, responsive, collaborative, efficient, transparent, inclusive and environmentally aware. In other words, you are looking for change.
Well, we are electing the first mayor in our 100-year history this year. There are also four council seats up for election (those held by Cobb, Russell, Stein and Ungar). This is arguably the most consequential CH election in decades because there is a new governmental structure and a mandate for change.
That change needs to begin with our housing department.
The Novak Report (June 2020) commissioned by our former city manager, revealed several critical problems within our housing department that must be addressed by the new mayor and city council:
- There are currently six unfilled positions, including four housing inspectors.
- Our inspectors need to be properly trained.
- Our housing code is out of date; no major overhaul since 1983.
- We need a strategic plan for blighted, tax-delinquent properties.
- CitizenServe accessibility for our residents needs to be expanded.
- Oversight from council and our citizens must be ongoing.
(Some of the above information is combined with my own research.)
There is no doubt; Cleveland Heights was among the hardest hit municipalities in Ohio when it came to the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. Our homes lost more value and they’ve been among the slowest to recover. CH homeowners lost more than 50% of their home’s value by 2009. Just two years ago, CH had gained back a little more than 80% of pre-crash value, but Shaker was back to 100% and Lakewood was +35%. We obviously need to make changes if we want a different result.
Here is what I will do on council, in collaboration with my colleagues, the mayor and our community, to solve these problems:
- Separate Housing from the Safety and Health committee. If housing is truly a priority, oversight should not be an afterthought for a committee with other priorities.
- Collaborate with housing experts such as Kermit Lind (CH resident), Sally Martin (South Euclid housing director), Greater Cleveland Congregations, local realtors and others to find solutions.
- After a strategic plan is in place, vote to fund it. Our budget should reflect our priorities.
- Create a process and a timeline to measure results.
Well-maintained, safe neighborhoods attract new residents and new businesses, and help sustain our existing business districts. We know what to do, so let’s get to work.
Tony Cuda grew up in Cleveland Heights, graduated from Heights High, counseled landlords and tenants for the Cleveland Tenants Organization, managed the Citizens For An Elected Mayor campaign, and is a candidate for Cleveland Heights City Council.