Affordable senior apartments upgraded, housing remains a challenge in Cleveland

CLEVELAND — A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the grand reopening of the Carnegie Tower in Fairfax on Thursday. The 171-unit building for low-income seniors had undergone a $35 million renovation over the past two years.

“We often walk in and buy what I would call sorry stuff. It’s not fair, it’s not what God wanted. And our vision is to buy it and turn it into something that will last another 30 years,” said Mark Ricketts, President and CEO of National Church Residences, during the Thursday afternoon celebration.

The Seniors Housing Association acquired the building in 2013 and made improvements to the complex.

“I lived on 36th Street in the same place for 46 years. When I left there, I came here. So hopefully I can stay here,” said Thelma Lewis, 99, a long-time resident. date.

Many residents of Carnegie Tower said they felt lucky to have adequate and affordable housing. This is not the case for many seniors and families in northeast Ohio.

“When they call me, some of the places they’re in aren’t ideal and some of the conditions aren’t ideal,” said Diane Pride-Mays, executive assistant to Cleveland Ward 6 Councilman Blaine Griffin. .

She explained that there are efforts to expand affordable housing, but the city still suffers from a dearth of low-cost options for seniors and others.

“This population is growing. And in terms of being able to have decent housing that they can afford – that becomes an issue,” Pride-Mays said.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Cleveland currently has about 10,000 multifamily affordable housing units. Cleveland Field Office Director Pamela Ashby said there are waiting lists for all units, some of which last several years.

“It’s not enough. And it’s just been exacerbated during the pandemic,” Ashby said. “We have landlords who have been able to assess market rent and so they have other options. poor don’t have many options.

She explained that there are efforts to encourage more landlords to accept housing vouchers, as well as new funds available from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for the development and rehabilitation of affordable housing.

“There is a high demand and it takes a long time for new units to come online,” she said.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it would allow states and local governments to use ARPA funding to fund long-term affordable housing loans for the construction and rehabilitation of low-cost housing. prices in their communities.

As seniors and others wait for more affordable housing options, many are also feeling the pinch of inflation.

“Everything is so high. You can barely eat, let alone find accommodation. So I think it’s terrible,” Mattie Rice, 87, said.

Pride-Mays added: “On a fixed income they have a certain amount but everything else goes up, we all know food, gas, everything…it’s kind of a problem older people are confronted.”

The annual inflation rate reached 9.1% in June 2022.

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