CH's community grants should be fully transparent

Cleveland Heights is not the only city where community development grants can be abused by developers and landlords for personal gain. This is a national issue. Other cities, however, have attempted to minimize this abuse by providing transparency to residents by instituting the following measures: 

  • Publish detailed information on the grant application process, eligibility criteria, and selection process. This allows residents to understand how grant decisions are made.
  • Create an online portal or database listing all community grant recipients, project descriptions, and award amounts. This provides public access to see how funds are allocated.
  • Hold public meetings and hearings to get community input on priority areas for grant funding. Resident engagement increases transparency in decision-making. Require grant recipients to report regularly on project progress and expenditures. Publicly sharing these reports holds grantees accountable. 
  • Implement limitations on indirect costs for certain grants to ensure maximum funding goes to community projects [instead of] administrative expenses. This safeguards the grants' intended purposes.
  • Conduct audits and publish findings to identify any issues with grant fund usage or reporting accuracy. Implementing audit recommendations enhances monitoring.

Proactive communication, public participation, expenditure transparency, auditing, and controlling overhead costs have helped cities administer community grants openly and provided accountably to residents.

Cleveland Heights residents have been kept in the dark too long about our grant funded programs. Lack of transparency implies something to hide; having something to hide is a breeding ground for unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. Now is the time for Cleveland Heights to institute these measures as policy and procedures for our Office of Economic Development.

Robert Berger

Robert Berger is a retired career counselor and a 25-year resident of Cedar Fairmount.  

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Volume 17, Issue 6, Posted 10:54 AM, 05.29.2024