City of Cleveland Announces New Middle Neighborhoods Project Director

March 25, 2019

By Tania Menesse, City of Cleveland

The City of Cleveland has announced Jason Powers as the city’s new Middle Neighborhoods Project Director. Jason will lead an initiative to develop a strategy and toolkit to support conditions for development of mixed income neighborhoods in Cleveland.

For the past four years he has served as Director of Marketing and Development for Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation – in this role, he supported Jeff Verespej’s leadership of the Middle Neighborhoods Initiative for Cleveland. Prior to this position, he worked at NeighborWorks America, based out of their Washington D.C. offices, traveling the country to support partner organizations in their communications strategy and neighborhood positioning efforts. These experiences, along with his time evaluating HUD programs in urban communities for Congress, have helped him develop a skill for coalition building and an appreciation for what can be done when public policy, local funders and grass roots organizations work together for neighborhood change.

Jason’s position is a two year fellowship with the City Community Development Corporation (CCDC), effective April 8. The position is generously funded by The Cleveland Foundation and under the direction of the Director of Community Development.  Jason will explore what Cleveland needs to build economic opportunity for current residents and new families that want to live in Cleveland’s neighborhoods. The initiative will develop a strategy and toolkit to support conditions for development of mixed income neighborhoods in Cleveland.  In what Mayor Jackson calls ‘stable neighborhoods’ there are few tools for neighborhood revitalization and stabilization, creating a missing middle in our city. The Project Director’s Scope of Work will include:

1. Develop a Middle Neighborhoods strategy for Cleveland, including but not limited to:

  • Tools to incentivize middle neighborhood economic development (including tax and land bank policy, etc.
  • Develop a sustainable tool for market-based home rehab/reinvestment.
  • Spur investment from the private financial market by first bridging the appraisal and lending gap with non-profit partners
  • Review best practices and design implementation strategies around workforce and economic opportunity for Cleveland’s middle neighborhoods.
  • Develop Neighborhood Brand and Marketing toolkit for local leadership, residents and businesses to attract new investment and interest.

2. Develop a long term (five year) strategy and implementation plan for middle neighborhoods, including:

  • Outline, quantify and secure the resources to implement initial strategies
  • Rollout local marketing initiatives to support and promote the major assets and positive qualities for investing into each neighborhood.
  • Accelerate market rate housing in middle income neighborhoods and strategically support commercial nodes identified within each community.
  • Begin to incorporate workforce and economic opportunity work into neighborhood.

3. Ensure the middle income strategy leverages and complements the Mayor’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative and Housing Partner’s investment.

Through this initiative we hope to move our revitalizing neighborhoods into middle neighborhood status, stabilize those that are already there and ensure that our market rate neighborhoods remain affordable for working class families.  For this effort to be successful, Jason is going to need support and partnership from all of you! The initiative will only be sustainable if private and non-profit partners are engaged in creating a coalition to carry it forward after the initial two year fellowship is complete.

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