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Some interesting trends emerge from a study of census data that give a clearer picture of the challenges faced by the city of Cleveland in the area of Housing:

  • Household Size: The average household size in Cleveland is 2.4 persons per household. Single-person households account for just 29% of Cleveland’s owner-occupied units and 41% of the renter-occupied units; whereas 2-to-4 person households account for 60% of the city’s owner-occupied units and 48% of renter-occupied units.

  • Resident Tenure: The decade ending in 2000 saw a decline in the total number of occupied units (both rental and owner-occupied). However, the percentage of occupied units owned by the people who were living in them increased from 48% to 49%. This is still low by suburban standards (where 70% of total housing units are owner-occupied).

  • Age of Residents : As theBaby Boomers” reach 65, housing that serves the needs of seniors will need to grow proportionately if Cleveland wants to hold on to a significant segment of its population. Within the next 10 years almost 10% of the city’s residents will be entering their senior years. The development of new senior housing here will allow these residents to remain in their communities and close to their relatives.

  • HousingUnits: The total number of housing units available in the city of Cleveland decreased by 4% between 1990 (224,361) and 2000 (215,856). The largest drop was in Central, one of the oldest and poorest neighborhoods in the city, where available units fell by 32%. Many of the housing units in this neighborhood were in such poor condition they needed to be demolished; the good news is that this made room for new housing development. It was the downtown area, however, that saw the biggest increase in available housing (up 48%), as part a strategic effort to make downtown more vibrant.

  • Vacancy Rate: Although the vacancy rate in Cleveland rose only slightly between 1990 and 2000, from 11% to 12%, it is much higher than the 5% vacancy rate reported by the suburbs at the end of the same period. The Central and Riverside areas saw the largest drop in vacancies in the city due to the large number of demolitions, while Lee Miles and Downtown saw a significant increase in vacancies. Many of the new Downtown housing units, however, were just built and had not yet been occupied by the time the 2000 Census was taken.

  • Housing Value: According to the 2000 Census, the median housing value of owner-occupied units in the city was $71,000 as compared to $128,000 in the suburbs. The neighborhoods closer to the border of the city have higher median values than the neighborhoods closer to the central city. The near east side neighborhoods (with the exception of Central, which had a high number of demolitions) have the lowest median value, ranging between $32,000 and $55,000. Downtown and Kamm’s Corners claimed the highest median value, ranging between $100,001 and $145,833.

  • Affordability: The affordability of housing in the city of Cleveland remained constant between 1990 and 2000. Relative to median family income, housing within the city is slightly less affordable in comparison to that in the county’s suburbs. Residents in the city of Cleveland have a median family income that is 62% greater than the median price of housing, while the suburban residents have a median income that is 78% greater than the median price of housing.

  • Residential Building Conditions: Housing located closer to the central and near east side of Cleveland is in the poorest condition. The housing in neighborhoods along the border of the city is mostly rated above average; but a disturbing 42% of the units in Cleveland are rated below average by to the County Auditor’s office—as compared to 5% of the housing in the suburbs.

  • Age of Housing Stock: The city of Cleveland has the oldest housing stock in Cuyahoga County. According to the County Auditor’s records, the median year to which residential structures date in Cleveland is 1920, as compared to the suburban median (1955). The oldest housing in the city is found in the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to Downtown, while the newest is located in Downtown Cleveland itself and in the neighborhoods that lie closer to the city’s suburban borders.

Sources: US Census, Cuyahoga County Auditor, The Center for Community Solutions, Case Western Reserve University

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