(draft) Announcement: National Steering Committee

March 25, 2019

A new Steering Committee has come together to determine the methods, structure, and resources to sustain a long-term effort that brings attention and support to America’s middle neighborhoods. The Steering Committee is comprised of nearly 20 confirmed members, including prominent practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and funders working at national, state, and local levels to protect communities “on the edge” between growth and decline. Read more

City of Cleveland Announces New Middle Neighborhoods Project Director

March 25, 2019

By Tania Menesse, City of Cleveland

We are pleased to announce that Jason Powers has accepted the position of Middle Neighborhoods Project Director. 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.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Middle Neighborhoods

April 2, 2019

By Nelson Beckford, The Cleveland Foundation

Think about curb cuts for a minute. Fifty years ago, wheelchair users found it difficult to navigate city streets because of the sharp sidewalk drop-offs making it impossible to travel city blocks without assistance. Well organized advocacy and lobbying led to solutions such as curb cuts, ramps alongside staircases, elevators with reachable buttons, and accessible bathrooms. These interventions improved wheelchair accessibility while further expanding benefits to individuals with strollers and delivery people. The benefits pie didn’t shrink. Read more

Reflections on the ‘Building Advocacy for Middle Neighborhoods’ meeting in Cleveland

March 25, 2019

By Paul Brophy

The following summary provides a high-level snapshot of the discussion and outcomes from the Cleveland events on November 13-14, 2018 for those who could not attend.

Approximately 200 people concerned about America’s middle neighborhoods met at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland on November 13-14, 2018 to advance practice, research and policy priorities regarding middle neighborhoods—those neighborhoods in America’s cities, suburbs and towns that are neither strong and vibrant nor deeply distressed.
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New Grant to Support Middle Neighborhoods Community of Practice

March 25, 2019

The American Assembly is pleased to announce that the Joseph & Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, a Baltimore-based group of family foundations, is providing a grant to support the nationwide Community of Practice. Read more

Community of Practice updates

March 25, 2019

The primary purpose of the Community of Practice (CoP) is to facilitate peer-to-peer learning and technical assistance opportunities. The Community of Practice has two practitioner co-chairs, Nedra Sims-Fears of Greater Chatham Initiative in Chicago and Jeff Verespej of Old Brooklyn CDC in Cleveland. They work with American Assembly staff Pamela Puchalski and Stephanie Sung, and consultant Marcia Nedland (also a practitioner) to guide CoP work.
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