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Purpose Built Communities: Harnessing The Energy of Two Communities to Drive Collective Progress

Posted March 10, 2021 in Articles

Author: Kimalon Dixon, Purpose Built Communities

Near Cleveland’s esteemed University Circle, the city’s center for arts and culture, medicine and academia, are two historic neighborhoods: Buckeye-Woodhill and Glenville. Buckeye-Woodhill is the location of Woodhill Homes, a public housing complex that is home to nearly 500 households. The city’s “Opportunity Corridor” local job zone runs through Buckeye-Woodhill and has spurred development in the area surrounding Woodhill Homes. The Glenville neighborhood is known for the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, Rockefeller Park and being the birthplace of the creator of Superman. Glenville has a rich legacy of black wealth, entrepreneurship, arts and culture, as well as an established faith community. Over the years, disinvestment, civic neglect, and an outmigration of historical homeowners have left blight in this once-vibrant neighborhood.

CLE Purpose Built Communities is a partnership between the Cleveland Foundation and Saint Luke’s Foundation. It was formed in 2018, after four years of due diligence to determine whether the Purpose Built Communities model could be applicable in Cleveland. Today, in collaboration with a number of partners, CLE PBC works to align and leverage resources, and coordinate action to drive holistic community revitalization. CLE PBC partners with two high-performing Community Development Corporations that serve as Neighborhood Community Quarterbacks: Burten Bell Carr Development Corporation leads the transformation effort in Buckeye-Woodhill, while the Famicos Foundation leads the effort in Glenville.

Executing The Purpose Built Model

Mixed Income Housing

  • CLE Purpose Built Communities has strong local community development partners that lead the housing work in each community. The current, collective focus is to develop enough affordable housing stock to prevent displacement and allow families to remain in the neighborhood

  • The Famicos Foundation has a goal to construct 100 new homes in Glenville by 2025. Currently, the Foundation is more than 50% ahead of this goal

  • As a part of the Woodhill Transformation Plan, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority will develop 77 new housing units in Buckeye-Woodhill, thanks to a 9% tax credit from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency

“We are building either market rate or affordable housing to make the neighborhood accessible and comfortable for people of all income levels. The hope is that residents will attain economic mobility and still choose to stay in the neighborhood.”

Cradle-To-College Education

  • CLE PBC has built a positive working relationship with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District

  • CLE PBC and the District will collaborate to co-create a high-quality educational plan that will benefit scholars and educators in both neighborhoods through strategic partnerships that include local daycares, businesses and residents who are interested in mobilizing their power to change the education landscape in their community

Community Wellness

  • CLE PBC defines community wellness as “wholeness,” which extends beyond physical health. This idea includes resilience in the face of complex challenges and greater social cohesion among residents

  • By working with residents to co-create gathering places, green spaces, and areas for kids to play, CLE PBC is helping strengthen the backbone of the community and generate overall neighborhood resilience

  • CLE PBC is focused on developing a wellness strategy for both neighborhoods that specifically builds support for youth in the face of COVID-19

“Wholeness ensures that people have the resilience to live their best lives despite the challenges that may exist within their environment.”

“Racial equity is the heartbeat of this work because we are working in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by racist policies and practices. We have a lot of work to do to support healing, justice, and restorative development in our neighborhoods."

Points of Pride

CLE PBC has engaged residents from the start and will continue to do so to inform its next steps:

  • CLE PBC currently gets formal community input through Transformation Teams of residents and stakeholders. The Teams create the vision for the strategy that CLE PBC will ultimately implement

  • Residents hold leadership positions with decision-making power on Neighborhood Executive Committees as well as CLE PBC’s Board of Directors

  • CLE PBC has marshalled the resources and energy of local philanthropy as well as a number of direct-service organizations and local CDCs. CLE PBC has, in this way, made an impact by increasing coordination between previously siloed organizations

“Residents understand their agency; they recognize agency within themselves and they use their agency to guide what happens in their neighborhood. I hope that we’ll be able to engage with more of their neighbors as we fully activate our governance structure.”

Success Drivers

  • As a Community Quarterback, CLE PBC has unique visibility into potential synergy between organizations leading the work in its two neighborhoods. As a close partner to two local foundations, CLE PBC is able to influence the efficient use of philanthropic resources

  • CLE PBC’s integrated governance structure allows for long-term sustainability and cohesion with other neighborhood focused initiatives

Current Challenges/Areas For Growth

  • Translating the role and necessity of a Community Quarterback (Fundraising)

  • Navigating the tension between being a grantee and a grantor, particularly when in competition with partner organizations for funding (Fundraising)

  • Ensuring the equity of all resident voices, particularly those of the most vulnerable, in the context of neighborhoods that are the focus of redevelopment (Resident Engagement)

On The Horizon

  • Planning for and activation of 2021 Priorities: Wellness (with a focus on youth); naming and branding of the initiative; affordable housing development

  • Finalizing an overall strategic plan and neighborhood-specific implementation plans

  • Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority recently applied for a HUD Choice Neighborhood Implementation grant for the Buckeye-Woodhill neighborhood

“We hope to create bridges and pathways that make it easier for residents to attain their personal, financial, and educational goals and live fulfilled lives. Our work is at its best when we identify opportunities for collaboration between local entities and develop strategic partnerships that ultimately benefit our community members.”

Download pbc-kimalondixonfeature.pdf