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HUD Passes Over Cleveland's Woodhill Homes For Public Housing Grant

A conceptual rendering shows the first phase of the Woodhill redevelopment plan, near the intersection of Woodland Avenue and Buckeye Road.

Updated: 10:45 a.m., Thursday, April 30, 2020

Cleveland’s Woodhill Homes has lost out on a multimillion-dollar federal grant to reimagine public housing developments across the country.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced four winners April 23: Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Fort Worth, Texas, and Winston-Salem, N.C. The projects in those cities will each receive between $30 million and $35 million in HUD grant funding.

Cleveland was the only city out of five finalists not to win a grant.

The Woodhill Homes plan called for rebuilding the development’s 80-year-old structures and offering educational and social service programming. As part of the overhaul, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) also would have built 1,000 units of new housing, half of them priced at market rates.

The City of Cleveland committed $15 million in improvements to streets and sidewalks, part of the $105 million local match required by HUD. Prior neighborhood projects were retroactively counted toward that match.

The city had previously committed to support the project with or without the loan. That’s still the plan, according to Ward 6 City Councilmember Blaine Griffin, who represents Woodhill Homes. But the city also needs to reevaluate the full impact of the coronavirus on the budget, Griffin said.

“When we get a chance to look at our income tax returns, we’re going to have to tighten our belts as a city,” Griffin said. “I’m not sure if this is going to be one of those projects or not.”

The project is still slated to move forward, CMHA CEO Jeffery Patterson said in an emailed statement.

“While CMHA is disappointed that the Woodhill Transformation Initiative was not selected for a Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant, we remained committed to continuing the work to move this vital development initiative forward,” Patterson said. “We want to thank the City of Cleveland as well as all of the residents and stakeholders in the Woodhill/Buckeye Community who support this initiative, and ask that they continue to remain engaged in this transformative project as we move ahead.” 

CMHA is setting up a meeting with HUD to discuss why the housing complex was denied but it has not yet on the calendar, CMHA said Thursday.

Cleveland’s government will have to evaluate its ability to continue with a variety of projects and programs — support for small businesses, broad economic development, general operations budgets and more — not just the Woodhill Homes redevelopment, Griffin said.

“All of us are going to have to come out of this and look at what impact coronavirus has had on us as a city before we move forward on any investments,” Griffin said. “When people live in the standards and conditions that they do in Woodhill Estates, it baffles me why we can’t get investments to renovate and redo not just the infrastructure, but to invest in the people of that neighborhood.”

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.