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Monday, September 19, 2005

CMHA to Help Suburbs Track Rent-Subsidy Recipients

Thomas Ott
Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
September 14, 2005

The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority will consider helping Cleveland's older suburbs keep tabs on low-income renters as they filter into the nervous cities' neighborhoods.

A draft agreement calls for CMHA to furnish 17 cities with a list of properties where landlords accept federal rent subsidies. The agency would alert a city when a new landlord agrees to take tenants from the Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly Section 8.

CMHA also would beef up a tenant-orientation program with a video and booklet that place emphasis on being a good neighbor. Public housing authorities in other parts of the country have similar programs. Earlier this year, Cleveland Heights proposed running its own mandatory classes for residents moving into the city under the voucher program.

City and CMHA officials began meeting after suburbs complained about the increasing use of subsidies to rent single-family homes and duplexes. U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a Cleveland Democrat, mediated. The suburbs said they worried that the tenants would form pockets of poverty and cause friction with middle-class residents.

Rick Wagner, a Cleveland Heights housing official who helped to lead the cities' charge, said some of the changes were culled from "best practices" spotlighted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Cleveland Heights Mayor Ed Kelley praised the agreement, which needs approval from CMHA's board and the individual cities.

"We've made a lot of progress, and I'm happy with where we're headed," Kelley said.

CMHA Executive Director George Phillips said he had no major objections as long as the cities run education programs that take in other renters. Cleveland Heights will hold programs for all renters two or three times a year, but will not force attendance, Kelley said.

The agreement also calls for CMHA to make landlords fix housing violations, counsel problem tenants and yank vouchers from tenants who break laws dealing with drugs and violence. Phillips said CMHA already takes those steps.

"We're doing much of what they're asking," he said. "They just aren't aware of that."

Cities covered by the agreement would include: Bedford, Bedford Heights, Brook Park, Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, East Cleveland, Euclid, Fairview Park, Garfield Heights, Lakewood, Lyndhurst, Maple Heights, Parma, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, University Heights and Warrensville Heights.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-5739


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