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Aug 17, 2023

Cleveland’s “middle neighborhoods” are getting attention thanks to Council’s recent approval of $7.3 million to the effort and the state of Ohio’s $3 million pledge. 

Federal revenue recovery funding the city received is fueling the effort led by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress. In addition to the $3 million from the state, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress is pursuing additional funding from philanthropic partners. 

Most of the investments would flow to four neighborhoods: Old Brooklyn and West Park on the West Side and Collinwood and Lee-Harvard to the east. A portion of the funding Council approved - $3.3 million - is earmarked for commercial corridors. 

Middle neighborhoods are typically areas on the edge between growth and decline. These are neither the strongest neighborhoods in a city nor are they the most distressed

They aren’t the “hot” neighborhoods like downtown, Ohio City, Tremont, Little Italy or University Circle, where residents pay  higher rents and home prices. 

But they don't require the massive subsidies that will be necessary to reverse decades of disinvestment in the city's most distressed areas. The middle neighborhood movement started nearly a decade ago. 

CNP’s affiliate will buy, renovate and resell houses in tight, targeted parts of the neighborhoods. A more vibrant market will help existing owners build wealth and giving buyers what they want, such as first-floor bathrooms, additional bedrooms and modern kitchens. The nonprofit may be taking a loss on part of its acquisition and renovation costs.

The organization will invest in key commercial corridors by providing white-boxing grants for storefronts – basically clearing and cleaning up the space to be available for businesses to move in without upfront costs. They will also offer small-business grants; technical assistance for community development corporations; and funding for patios and parklets, projects that transform curbside parking into outdoor seating, dining areas or green space.

The program also would include marketing for middle neighborhoods and outreach to lenders, real estate brokers and appraisers. And Cleveland Neighborhood Progress plans to set aside roughly a third of the houses it purchases for lower-cost, for-sale housing — more modest renovation projects to be carried out by other nonprofits and affordable-housing providers.