Cleveland City Council approves $ 15 million stimulus plans that were originally part of Mayor Frank Jackson’s spending plan
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Although a week earlier it refused to pass incumbent Mayor Frank Jackson’s omnibus plan to spend the first half of the city’s federal stimulus money, Cleveland City Council voted on Monday for four community and economic development projects that were part of Jackson’s original proposal. .
These projects include $ 8 million for a housing development at 9410 Hough Avenue; $ 3 million for Allen Estates housing development; $ 2 million for a new Hitchcock Center for Women residential treatment center; and $ 2 million for NEON health services.
Council members Jenny Spencer, Charles Slife, Kerry McCormack and Mike Polensek voted against NEON’s proposal. Spencer, Slife and McCormack also voted against the 9410 Hough legislation.
The projects were originally listed as the “strategic development” part of Jackson’s plan to allocate $ 44.5 million in US bailout dollars to community development. The mayor’s plan also called for $ 25.5 million for economic development, $ 10.3 million for “other” developments, $ 15 million for demolition and $ 26.6 million for public safety.
Cleveland City Council last week approved legislation authorizing Jackson’s plan for public safety, as some council members sought to begin the process of ordering ambulances and other vehicles. Council did not however authorize any of Jackson’s specific plans for community or economic development or demolition, leaving the proposed programs in motion.
In recent weeks, however, city leaders have quietly introduced stand-alone legislation for several proposals in Jackson’s original plan. The full council committee heard the new legislation for the first time on Monday, but had heard several presentations on the projects in recent months.
The projects are:
- 9410 Hough Avenue – $ 8 million: US bailout money would help developers cover the cost of renovating and restoring a 10-story, 116-unit doomed apartment building in the Hough neighborhood to use as housing for low-income people. Gina Merritt, director of Washington, DC-based Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures, told board members she is working with SLSCO of Texas to renovate the building at a cost of approximately $ 34 million, which will also include 4 800 square feet for a community center on two floors. SLSCO bought the building, built in 1973 and condemned for a decade, in June for $ 1.5 million, and city council legislation also provides for the city to grant developers three additional lots.
- Allen Estates – $ 3 million: The money would help fund the efforts of developers Sheila Wright and Angela Bennett to build a 72-unit apartment building and storefronts at East 66th Street and Linwood Avenue in the Hough neighborhood. The city’s share is designed to help pay a $ 4.2 million gap in developer funding for the $ 14.6 million project, and Wright told council members she was in talks with Cuyahoga County officials to help cover the remainder of that amount. Wright and Bennett, through their company Frontline Development Group, proposed the building as part of a larger project in the neighborhood they have dubbed âAllen Estatesâ and includes a total of 237 homes.
- Hitchcock Center for Women – $ 2 million: The city’s stimulus money would go towards a $ 9.4 million project to build a new residential treatment facility on Ansel Road in the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood. The Hitchcock Center for Women currently provides drug treatment services at the former St. Mary’s Seminary on Ansel Road, which is a historic property that is becoming prohibitively expensive for the clinic, executive director Jason Joyce told City Council. . The city’s money would be in addition to a $ 2.5 million grant from the Cleveland Clinic and potential funding from the ADAMHS and Cuyahoga County Board of Trustees. Plans call for a treatment center and affordable housing to be built in one building, so clients – some of whom are homeless – have a place to stay after treatment. The program also allows women to bring their children to residential treatment, which is a rare offer that keeps children with their mothers and keeps them out of the foster care system. Hitchcock would seek to transform the St. Mary’s building into a sort of headquarters. The city has been asked to provide $ 3.5 million. Community development director Wackers therefore said the additional $ 1.5 million could come from CARES law money, block grants for community development or other sources.
- NEON – $ 2 million: Stimulus money would go to Northeast Ohio Health Services, or NEON, primarily for $ 1.4 million in programs including mental health services, prevention and intervention, food distribution, healthy eating education, chronic disease control and health literacy. About $ 360,000 would fund suppression clinics and $ 200,000 would go to repair damage to NEON’s health center in Hough, where a fire broke out in May. NEON’s finances have sparked controversy, with the nonprofit running a deficit of nearly $ 1 million in the last available tax return, despite serving a third fewer patients than five years ago. The CEO of NEON also earns over $ 500,000 and received a raise of $ 100,000 in 2018. NEON has also drawn the ire of some board members for alleged mismanagement of the New Eastside Market.
However, the council did not pass a new law submitted Friday by Jackson, who detailed $ 54.3 million in stimulus spending for community and economic development.
Items in the line were surprisingly similar to items in Jackson’s original omnibus plan, such as loan pools for small business and real estate development, home repair assistance, emergency rentals, and food aid, help with down payment and window subsidies.
Sharon Dumas, Jackson’s chief of staff and chief financial officer, told the council on Monday that the legislation was drafted “to address the council’s concerns about previous legislation.” She also stressed that the new legislation would ensure that the city is the entity that controls community and economic development programs.
Councilor Kerry McCormack described the new legislation as a “180” – going against council’s decision last week to vote against Jackson’s specific plans. He also stressed that under no circumstances would an outside organization take control of stimulus funds or development programs without the explicit permission of the council.
City Councilor Charles Slife criticized community development programs offered by the Jackson administration, which claim to target strategic areas but exclude many parts of the city, including poor neighborhoods. Slife also said the new legislation sought to undermine the will of the council.
“The elephant in the room is that the mayor’s administration is in its final weeks, and the optics of the mayor introducing a bill for the introduction and passage of our last meeting, removing any possibility of public comment. – which we worked hard to institute – and undermine the legislation we passed last week, I find that insulting, “Slife said.” For me, I see just an attempt to get what was wanted in the first place. â¦ It looks more like a benevolent dictatorship than a representative democracy. “
Board chairman Kevin Kelley described the board as having a “gap in understanding” that it did not expect to close or remedy on Monday, so he decided to maintain the legislation until the new board starts in january.
âAnd if I’m not here, start without me,â Kelley joked, as he’s one of the board members who won’t be returning.
Journalist Eric Heisig contributed to this report.