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Ohio’s Poorest City: The Struggle to Remake East Cleveland

14 February 2010 5 Comments

Great article in the Plain Dealer about the city East Cleveland–Ohio’s poorest city–its new mayor, and the seemingly impossible task of turning it around.

Gary Norton is young (37) and well educated (he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta and earned his master’s degree in public administration at Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs). And that’s a big change in a city that has been characterized by political mismanagement and corruption. Former Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor was convicted on bribery charges in 2004.

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Norton’s election has injected fresh hope in the largely black, inner-ring suburb of Cleveland, which has lost more than 1,500 homes to foreclosure in the past two years–about 500 per mile, the highest in the state.

East Cleveland was once the home of Cleveland’s industrial titans, including John Rockefeller, but many of the breathtaking mansions have been overtaken by weeds and vandals.

Norton’s hoping to leverage the city’s location near the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University to attract some new development. He also has $2.2 million in federal stimulus dollars to attack blight.

On the other hand, the city has a failing school system, a 35 percent poverty rate and the lowest educational attainment stats in Greater Cleveland. Truly, and I’m editorializing here, the challenges in this city cannot be overstated.

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I visited this city shortly after moving to Cleveland last year and I was shocked.

But redevelopment officials are encouraged by Norton’s cooperative attitude, according to the article. His leadership helped the city secure a $20 million expansion of Huron Hospital, a Cleveland Clinic satellite, and the city recently began a partnership with the county landbank.

-AS

  • Special K

    It would be great if he could make some positive changes in East Cleveland. When I worked at the Lorain Journal, I had an editor who had covered East Cleveland as a reporter at the Cleveland Press; he said the government corruption there was all-encompassing.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/2009/10/support-braddock-projects-on-pittsburgh.html John Morris

    I like his attitude towards “gentrification”. All development and new people coming in is bad and most of the time, in an urban area willing to do rational, walkable and dense development, there’s no need to push all the poor out.

    I can’t say that’s true for Cleveland, but in most palces the “pioneer organisms of gentrification”, artists, urban creatives, students and young singles are often not rich themselves. Most of the time, they don’t want to kick other people out. They are just to live in decent safe communities.

    What’s not needed is eminent domain projects that use force to move people out.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/2009/10/support-braddock-projects-on-pittsburgh.html John Morris

    All development and new people coming in is not bad.

    Sorry, that’s what I meant to say.

  • Eli

    The Cleveland Hts E. Cleveland border areas near Mayfield and Coventry is a great location but needs some attention especially in The E. Cleveland Section, streets such as Belmar, Hilltop, Edgerton…..if more police presence was available just even a car parked on the streets would stimulate growth and development, lets clean it up and plant trees flowers and new development.

  • http://www.3dhomeelectronics.com 3D TV

    Cleveland has sucked as long as I can remember. I always thought most of the city was a ghetto. Not even their sports teams can’t win anything.