After 50 years, Heights Community Congress closes its doors
On March 2, Heights Community Congress (HCC), announced that it was ceasing operations. In an open letter announcing the closing, Rev. Eric Dillenbeck, HCC's most recent director, wrote the following:
After 50 years of committed service to the Heights Community and northeast Ohio the Board of the Heights Community Congress (HCC) made the difficult decision to close its doors, effective February 28, 2023.
In 1972 HCC was formed to carry forward the work first started by the women who conducted the St. Ann Audit. For 50 years HCC worked to create a more just and diverse community that is committed to fair housing for all people. During our early years we helped pioneer efforts to uphold the values set forth in the Fair Housing Act of 1968. We trained and sent Fair Housing Monitors out into the community to test the practices of local real estate agents and landlords. When issues were discovered, HCC attempted to engage with the involved parties to provide education about the offending issues; when attempts at conciliation were not successful then HCC would file official complaints with HUD to help ensure that unfair housing practices were being held accountable. As an extension of our work for fair housing, HCC was committed to creating conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion to help neighbors understand neighbors and come together to embrace the many differences that are part of Cleveland Heights’ signature strength. In addition to this work, it has been our special joy to host the Heights Heritage Home & Garden Tour. For over 40 years this tour brought thousands of people together to explore the unique nature of the homes and gardens that make up the tapestry of life here in the Heights.
While HCC is heartbroken to be closing our doors, we celebrate the impact we have had in the Heights Community, and we applaud the commitment in the community to keep The Heights diverse. We know that when one door closes, another door opens so we look forward to the new opportunities the Heights community will create to come together to ensure that all people continue to find fair and equitable housing options in this community and the ways new leaders will step forward to ensure that the city truly lives into its slogan, “All are Welcome.”
Northeast Ohio continues to have a very strong organization committed to fair housing in the area. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing discrimination in the housing market, HCC strongly encourages you to reach out to the Fair Housing Center for Rights & Research (https://www.thehousingcenter.org). To report housing discrimination, call 216-361-9240 and their excellent staff will be there to offer support, education, and enforcement.
The Board of the Heights Community Congress wants to thank you for 50 years of support, for joining us in the work for a more just and equitable community, and for the sustained commitment to create change. May this community continue to come together to do the work required to help bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice.
Jessica Schantz is the e-news and distribution manager at the Heights Observer, the office manager for FutureHeights, and a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights.