Two years ago I initiated the Slavic Village Recovery project to redevelop the historic neighborhood by taking a holistic approach to community revitalization. The first of its kind, the project is a partnership of two non-profits and two private corporations, Slavic Village Development, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Forest City Enterprises and my organization, RIK Enterprises.
The focus of the partnership is to ultimately stabilize the larger community by creating affordable housing. Our strategyinvolves acquiring vacant and abandoned homes from servicers or the local land bank for rehabilitation and resale. We then set up the buyer with a 30 year mortgage for a modest monthly payment of around $400. The holistic approach targeting several properties at a time, using both demolition and rehab, is being viewed nationally as a case study for the creation of an affordable housing model that can be replicated in communities around the Country. This approach is at the core of our strategy and what makes the model highly effective.
If you want to measure the success of this project, you need to look no further than East 54th street where the first recovery home is owned by a proud family, and almost completed homes have a line of interested buyers. Talk to the resident who has lived in the community for 50 years, and almost gave up hope on his home until he saw the marked change being made in his neighborhood.
I have seen places like Slavic Village time and time again. It is not unlike any other community in our country. It is home to local businesses, schools and churches. It is home to hardworking men and women. Struggle and loss is not the story of Slavic Village, the story of Slavic Village is how it is overcoming a crisis. With this approach I believe it can be the story of other communities too. If we can bring this neighborhood back from ground zero then I know we can do the same all over America.
Guest author Robert Klein, chairman and founder of Safeguard Properties, initiated the Slavic Village Recovery Project to revitalize the historic Cleveland neighborhood devastated by the foreclosure crisis.