by Tony Bango
(Plain Press, August 2015) The Dream Neighborhood is a project spearheaded by Councilman Joe Cimperman in collaboration with Councilmen Matt Zone, Brian Cummins, and the Stockyard, Clark-Fulton & Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office. This project is geared towards providing safe and affordable housing, social support, and economic opportunities for new refugees entering the City of Cleveland. The Dream Neighborhood will be centered within 1/2 mile of the Thomas Jefferson Newcomers Academy (3145 W. 46th Street) because it already serves a large immigrant and refugee population, making it the perfect center for a diverse community that is new to Cleveland and the United States.
Within this area, there are 145 vacant and abandoned residential properties. This project will aim to achieve 57 demolitions through our partnership with the City of Cleveland.
In addition to this, we hope to rehabilitate a minimum 20 vacant properties to be used as housing opportunities for incoming refugees. Refugees will be provided opportunities for gardening and support services through a community center. Refugee resettlement organizations will be invited and encouraged to participate with the program to ensure that wrap-around services are provided for the refugees through the community center.
As they transition into their new life in the U.S., refugees will also need employment opportunities. Local employers will be connected with refugees to ensure there are opportunities to develop skills for finding gainful employment. Vacant commercial space along Clark and Storer will also be targeted as spaces for start-up businesses for local residents and refugees alike.
In addition to this, this is also an opportunity to leverage these services and opportunities to support the community. Ultimately, this will become a community which welcomes and supports diverse populations adjusting to life in Cleveland. Both incoming refugees and existing residents will benefit from reducing the amount of vacant structures, creating economic opportunities, and improving the overall quality of life.“
Editor’s Note: Tony Bango is the housing director for the Stockyard, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office.