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Monday, October 11, 2021

From UBI to Tree Trimmers to Burke, Here's How Clevelanders Think ARPA Dollars Should be Spent

Posted By on Mon, Oct 11, 2021 at 2:18 PM

click to enlarge PHOTOS BY  AERIAL AGENTS
  • Photos by Aerial Agents
Beyond requests for individual property repairs and pleas for infrastructure improvements in their neighborhoods, Clevelanders who responded to the city's surveys about the allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars largely recognized the importance of targeting inequity if Cleveland is to recover from the pandemic.

While many respondents called for improved infrastructure citywide, just as many highlighted the need for free or affordable access to that infrastructure. Many respondents suggested using funds for a broadband internet network, for example; but nearly as many suggested that wi-fi should be free or low-cost for all City of Cleveland residents. New water and sewer pipes are needed urgently, too, some said, but so are affordable utility bills and the forgiveness of overdue payments due to pandemic hardship.



The City of Cleveland received more than 2,000 survey responses online and through the mail in July and August, when it solicited resident feedback for how it should spend upwards of $500 million. This public engagement was a precondition for receiving ARPA dollars. The city provided the responses in a September public records filing. 

Themes that emerged throughout multiple responses were the need for modern public safety equipment, fairly compensated city employees, investments in the tree canopy and Lake Erie, and affordable housing. Many asked for increased pay for public safety workers and so-called "essential workers" who worked throughout the pandemic. A number of respondents wanted to see low- or zero-interest loans for home improvements for longtime homeowners. And many respondents desperately wanted their streets repaved. 

Here's a selection from the responses, harvested from the online survey.

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"Water bills are the one outrageous expense of Cleveland. They are high because they are ostensibly being used to "fix" the problems we already have, but I very much doubt that is actually happening. Having access to clean water and plumbing is a basic human necessity. It is shameful that we have residents that live without these things. This money could also be used to give those residents access to internet, which has become a necessity for our existence as well. Another use could be to forgive outstanding water and sewer bills and get those residents back on their feet."
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"Allow for the food stamp benefits requirements to be adjusted to allow those who make above the line to become eligible for benefits....at least for 6 to 12 months."
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"I am part of a coalition of residents who support Participatory Budgeting in Cleveland. There’s no better expert on what Cleveland residents need than the residents themselves, and the City is well-situated to adopt a Participatory Budgeting framework to help increase civic participation and resident expertise in determining how a portion of ARPA funding should be used to lead to economic recovery for residents and businesses in all of Cleveland's wards. More than 700 jurisdictions throughout the United States and Canada have implemented participatory budgeting, and our local suburb Lakewood recently allocated $1 million in ARPA funding to Participatory Budgeting. The American Rescue Plan funding provides a unique opportunity to launch PB in Cleveland to allocate stimulus funding. It’s also a chance to establish PB as a permanent part of the City’s budgeting procedures. An annual participatory process would ensure a more responsive budget with more informed and engaged residents. To date, over 60 organizations support Participatory Budgeting in Cleveland and nearly 200 residents have endorsed the idea. The number below reflects Cleveland's 30.8% poverty rate, and could be allocated in a way where $5 million is designated in 2021, and $25.8 million in 2022."
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"Economic empowerment grants for residents or non-residents would create sustainable companies/start-ups that are not tech companies. We have given too much monies to hospitals/small bus. developers/and organizations and potential tech companies that have did little to help the community. We must go back to developing the community to create start-ups."
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"Why don't you give it to your underpaid city workers. Because of them the city functions. And with more money in their pockets I imagine they will stimulate local business. Which creates more tax revenue. That goes right back in the pocket of the city."
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"Compensate with hazard pay the Essential Employees for the city of Cleveland the ones that stayed on the job Police, Fire, and EMS workers. The employees who were not furloughed with full pay. The employees who were not able to work from home. The employees who put their own safety and their families safety at risk for the citizens of Cleveland."
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"Regularly clear the litter and rubbish that is accumulating along city streets throughout Ward 5 and beyond. Woodland Avenue, from the highway and headed east and Shaker Boulevard are particularly bad. It is an embarrassment. Our customers and business partners regularly comment on the amount of trash they pass on their way to our facility."
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"Provide current residents the same incentives and resources to build affordable new homes or repair their existing homes, as you provide to developers coming into neighborhoods with new construction that displaces long time residents that wish to stay in their current neighborhoods."
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"Create a think lab where scientists/engineers/inventors could invent ways to repurpose recycled materials."
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"Hire fleets of tree trimmers and send them into the poorest neighborhoods. Get rid of the overgrowth in the yards and the trees that are ruining roofs and garages and add to the blight of the neighborhoods. Replace the roofs to help keep people in their homes. We can do a lot with landscaping and new roofs."
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"Fix the roads. ALL of the roads, not one here, one there. FIX ALL OF THE ROADS, THEY ARE ALL TERRIBLE!"
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"I would like to see all the abandon homes to be torn down and new affordable homes built to meet the needs of the community. I would like to see more money spent on activities for children and more family involvement. I would like to see more resources available to low income population."
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"First of all the city of Cleveland needs to give every grown person that is a resident of the city of Cleveland at least a $1,000 stimulus check. Then the city needs to hire Cleveland residents to fill Cleveland city jobs in departments that are understaffed ( the police department, teachers, sanitation workers, meter readers, etc...). Finally the city needs to build some affordable housing for low income city residents. Build new men's, women's and family homeless shelters. These homeless shelters would have real job training and job placement, real low-income housing programs (to put people and families in the housing that the city builds from this stimulus money) and be clean sanitary, safe shelters that provide adequate meals for all the less fortunate people in the city of Cleveland."
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"Undo the 2016 city income tax hike."
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"We need to protect the vitality of our lake: for recreation, for tourism, for environmental justice, for a healthy, thriving ecosystem. Stormwater runoff continues to be a huge issue that impacts the safety and health of our lake and our residents. Our lake makes us a tourist destination, an economic destination, and a location positioned to fair well in the event of any fresh water-related emergencies."
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"As a person born with a severe disability, it is so important to include people with disabilities into every part of the community. I've lived in an institution for several years and I NEVER want to return to one. My idea is for starters build an apartment complex designed for those that are disabled as there is not enough truly accessible apartments within the city. Make this complex close to shopping, jobs and even city hall. Then create an organization that has a panel of people with disabilities with the task of getting people with disabilities more involved in every aspect of Cleveland. Make Cleveland a city that people with disabilities are relocating to because of how progressive and inclusive it is, especially for people with disabilities who identify as LBGTQ!"
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"Access to high quality, affordable, and comprehensive primary Mental Health Care."
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"When I compare my neighborhood with those on the east side, I am always disheartened at the inequality. We need to focus on helping those communities. Removing, abating, or renovating abandoned buildings. Installing community gardens in vacant lots. Repairing sidewalks and streetlights to make roads safer. We should also focus on programs for children. I've seen the amount of children who have been participating in the CMSD summer program and think that is such a great idea to keep kids engaged and focused on personal development. I'd love to see more programs to get kids engaged in their communities to help keep them safe and happy to represent where they live."
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"Create and implement a safety system for Cleveland streets. Record and monitor real time traffic flow. The system could show safety concerns, high traffic areas, traffic congestion. It could also tie into missing persons, stolen vehicles and other police matters involving vehicles."
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"RETURN ALL $511 MILLION TO RESIDENTS OF CITY OF CLEVELAND. WE KNOW BEST HOW TO SPEND OUR TAX DOLLARS. WE DO NOT TRUST YOU TO USE OUR TAX DOLLARS EFFECTIVELY AND EFFICIENTLY."
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"Disc golf is exploding in popularity, partially due to people wanting to get outside but still be isolated and social distancing. Disc golf (also known as Frisbee golf) is sport that is played much like traditional golf, but rather than using a ball and club, players use flying discs. The holes are generally between 100 to 200 yards in length and may start in 2 locations to accommodate people, including children, of all ages and abilities. That means disc golf courses are much shorter than a traditional golf course. But no only do they require less land, but also less maintenance, as the natural landscape is part of the design and there are no costly greens to maintain or hedges to trim. My idea is a 9 or 18 hole disc golf course in a Cleveland area near downtown, the westside, or southeastern area. Currently, SIMS Park on the Eastside (23131 Lakeshore Blvd. Euclid, OH) has an 18 hole course. There are a few other courses in the surrounding suburban areas (Bay Village - 9 holes, Parma -several courses, and Hudson - 18 holes) but Cleveland only has the upper eastside location. A 9 hole course could fit on as little as 2 acres and the estimated cost would be $3000 to $4000. Routine maintenance would involve cutting grass and landscaping of the occasional fallen tree or large tree branch. Some cities charge a small fee to play, but most courses are free of charge. Professional Tournaments could also generate money for the city. There are currently no professional tournaments in Ohio. There is one in Milford, Michigan and one in Burlington, Kentucky August 13 - 15."
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"Make the RTA free! For everyone! It will boost ridership while decreasing the need for families to own a car (or in most cases, multiple cars). Less cars means less traffic and less carbon emissions."
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"Development of “Agrihoods” in the food deserts of Cleveland, free to residents. I’m sure those food deserts have been identified. Detroit Agrihood feeds 2000 households and provide recreation and community pride in the area. We should follow their example and expand it as well. Integrate it into the new NRCCs, the health department, and recreation. There’s so much that can be done here. Even if the city could contract with a non-profit and provide the space, that non-profit could do amazing things I’m sure. With this idea, two agrihoods - (east and west side) taking up about 3 acres could theoretically feed 4000 households."
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"Pay off the FAA $32 million loan of Burke Airport and demolish it to make room for a world class outdoor performing arts space (move Blossom), outdoor park space, and a boardwalk in the spirit of Chicago's Navy Pier."
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"Connecting the lake to the nearby residential area will encourage investment from Asia Town to Hough, bringing economic opportunity to those neighborhoods. The new lakefront will also encourage business to develop in Cleveland as the cost of living here is so low compared to other cities with similar access to a body of water this size. With the Rock Hall and Science Center next door, we have the great beginnings of an amazing lakefront cultural revitalization that will bring Cleveland into the future.
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"Mob."

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